The depths of August

Fifteen minutes earlier, it was impossible to sit there due to the fronds.

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It’s worse every August, two months into the monsoon season. I curse my planting of so many things years ago when I was a horticultural ignoramus. The philodendron in the photo is an example. I’m resting my old bones after removing about a dozen of those huge leaves, which were drooping to the grass.

Speaking of grass, all of what you see and much, much more will be stone and concrete by January. That’s this fall’s reversal plan, turning greenery into lovely, maintenance-free rock.

By mid-August, the constant rain since early June has put muscle into the yard. I really should hire a gardener. But wait! I have one, Abel the Deadpan Yardman, and he does more than mow on occasion, mostly tossing what I cut into the ravine at the tail of the dead-end street out back. I just need to alter his job description.

When I replace this grass with stone, he’ll have even less to mow, but I’ll pay him the same, so I need to provide more chores.

Looking to another part of the yard, we encounter this below, the Willy-Nilly Zone, at least half of it. This is where the monster aloe vera lived until I had it removed last year. It was at the back, to the right. It monopolized at least a quarter of the space, and since its departure, eager beavers took up the slack. Most are weeds.

What is a weed? It’s a plant growing where you don’t want it.

I tried to control them at first, but it was an impossible task. Thankfully, the zone is trapped by stone and concrete! There are some desired plants in there. The datura tree, a stand of red-hot pokers, a bridal bouquet that doesn’t bloom much anymore, some lilies, that cactus in the foreground.

Also, a line of something I planted along the near border 18 years ago. And some ground cover my child bride tossed in there way back. But there are lots of weeds too. It all rather blends together, however. It’s not called the Willy-Nilly Zone for no reason.

Maybe I should yank it all out and lay concrete and stone.

That’s always a superlative option.

The Willy-Nilly Zone, full of Lord knows what.

Time to pucker up!

My patch of parasitic mistletoe.

A couple of months ago when we were still in winter and the bush — hibiscus, I think — in which this thing resides was still lacking its leaves, I noticed a patch of something green sitting there alone. Looks like mistletoe, I muttered as I continued on with life.

This morning, I took a photo using a plant-identification app and, sure enough, it’s mistletoe. I mentioned this to my child bride and, after the appropriate smootch below the mistletoe, she said she’d never heard of it. It must not be “a thing” in Mexico.

Hibiscus, I think.

The plant on which the mistletoe lives — mistletoe is a parasite — is, I believe, a form of hibiscus. The plant-ID app was unsure. When we moved into the Hacienda 18 years ago, it was living cheek-to-jowl against a loquat tree where some nincompoop had planted it. I uprooted it and planted it over thataway a bit, giving it space.

The hibiscus — and let’s assume that’s what it is — flowers now and then, kinda pretty, and it does not toss trash all over the place, so I’ve left it in peace. Longtime readers here know that I am a plant predator, quite the killer when it suits me, and it suits me when a plant becomes a nuisance, mostly by tossing trash.

When we moved here, there was a fig bush where one of the carports now sits, so it was removed, which is a shame because I like figs.

The skeletal loquat.

Not far off is the loquat tree which grew like mad, tossing loquats all over the place where they rotted on the ground. Tossed big, ugly leaves too, much like those of a magnolia, which is a yucky tree, I think, in spite of my being a son of the Old South.

Rhett Butler and all that.

Alas, my child bride is excessively fond of loquats and the tree on which they grew maniacally. But she didn’t have to deal with the constant mess and work, so her vote was of less value than mine.

I am a kind husband, however, so I did not remove it. I only cut it back, way, way back, and I maintain it as you see in the photo, a half-alive zombie.

When I die, she can let it go whole hog again and, believe me, it will.

It needs a trellis.

Let us further milk the gardening topic today. While the Hacienda was under construction in 2003, I planted five bougainvillea bushes along the property wall you see in these photos. Two promptly died. Of the remainers, one was very different. It does not go berserk, and at times during the year it’s all flowers. It’s my best bougainvillea buddy.

But the best gardening news of the day is that we have mistletoe, which gives my child bride another reason to kiss me, even though she’d never heard of mistletoe. You get your kisses where you can. That’s always been my philosophy.

The morning rooster

Walking through the living room just after dawn, I noticed this rooster. The light was coming through the window some distance away, but light travels. It was an illustration of what I had been thinking about earlier. As I head off into dreamland every evening, I hear dogs in the distance. When I wake before dawn, I hear roosters.

It’s usually not a tranquil world here, but you grow accustomed to it.


The garden grows

We’re firmly into March now and, the Goddess willing, there will be no more freezes, so I decided to call Abel the Deadpan Yardman to come over from where he lives on the other side of the sex motel, and trim the Willy-Nilly Zone. That’s the area just off the downstairs terraza where things grow wildly, i.e. willy-nilly.

The Willy-Nilly Zone has two sides because the sidewalk marches through its middle.

Side One, before. The monster aloe vera long lived here.
Side One, after. At the top left are bridal bouquets that haven’t bloomed in a few years.
Side Two, before. Bridal bouquets, red-hot pokers and at the rear, Birds of Paradise.
Side Two, after. Too early for flowers, but now they have space.

Less clutter lets one breathe easier. The days are beautiful here now, but it won’t last long because Springtime is the worst season hereabouts. The landscape gets drier and browner, and dust becomes a problem, which means my child bride wants the windows shut at all times, and they usually are. The only exceptions being at night, especially the bedroom windows, when Springtime stuffiness is challenging.


I say I hope the cold is gone now, but that’s not a given. Look at this photo from March 2016 that I snapped from the upstairs terraza. The milder weather has inspired me to change socks. My winter sock is a wool blend from Costco. My new springtime — and perhaps summer too — sock, also from Costco, are Pumas.

I am fond of pumas, panthers, whatever you want to call them, due to an entheogenic vision I had 25 years ago, which was the inspiration for the Hacienda’s front door, a design of my own making.

Bye-bye, bananas

Following the last freeze, and what made me decide to eliminate the bananas.

In recent years I’ve engaged in a campaign to make the yard more user-friendly. I’ve removed lots of plants that I ignorantly installed way back when. Some, however, were here when we purchased the double lot in 2002. Monster nopals, humongous bougainvilleas, pear trees, peach trees, gargantuan magueys, to name a few.

And my gardening chores have diminished accordingly.

We once had three stands of banana trees, but we were down to just this one. Tuesday was its day to die. In its place we now have a nice concrete and stone “table.” I plan to puchase two big decorative, clay pots to sit atop the stone.

Below you see the work under way.

A machete brings the banana trees to an ugly end on Tuesday.
The finishing touches of the murder. Rocks wait their chance.
The coast is clear! Ready for the new look.
And it gets started from the right side.
Miguel, my main man, sweeps away loose ends today.
And a new era is born at that end of the Alamo Wall.