It was a good concept. Even though we're entering what in San Miguel passes as spring or the beginning of summer, and many wild plants are fluttering and whispering to one another about blooming—and a few are actually doing just that—there's no rain in the forecast for at least another five months. During that time we may expect some cacti, aloes and other flowering teasers but for the most part very dry air and wind that'll keep us slathering ourselves with moisturizing lotion like a couple of aging movie stars.
Mind you that with a horrific winter still battering the northern United States I'm not complaining about dry skin or the tedium of clear skies and temperatures in the mid-seventies—day in and day out. One can get used to that.
During the first five years the semi-tropical patio thrived alright with bird-of-paradise plants, ferns, the ubiquitous (in San Miguel) lavenders and lantanas, with potted geraniums and other flowering plants in the middle. Meanwhile my interest in potted cacti and succulents grew obsessively with dozens of pots piling up as they awaited their turn on the main stage.
|A keeper: One of about ten Bird of Paradise, along|
with some ferns, that provide a backdrop to the
new cactus garden.
|Lemon surprise: I never thought the Meyer lemon and navel|
orange trees in the front patio would yield much but they have,
particularly the lemon.
It was time for some drastic measures. We yanked out most of the plants, except for the trees, some tall ferns and the showy Bird of Paradise plants which seem to like it here. In their place we moved the potted cacti and succulents that had sat patiently on the sidewalk around the patio for months if not years.
|Man of the hour: Félix posing by his proud creation.|
He was enormously proud with the results and kept walking around muttering, "Quedó muy bien, muy bien" ("It came out really nice, really nice.")
It did indeed, though the plants need time to grow and fill in the space so the patio doesn't look so sparse. And we still have even more potted cacti and succulents waiting for a permanent place to live.
|Ladies in Waiting: Potted Kalanchoes and Aeoniums.|
|A heap of Aeoniums: I don't know how they grew|
this way, but I'm afraid to move them anywhere.
|It's alive!: The chief attraction of this ornamental grass, |
whose name I believe is Carex comans, is to look as if
|Call me weird: This asparagus-like cactus|
puts out flowers at the end of the stalks. Its
name is Pedilanthus tehuacanus (not sure about
the tehuacanus part); it's supposed
to spread rapidly.
I tried to encourage Félix, who has a prodigious memory perhaps on account of being so young, to learn some botanical Latin but he just gave me a strange look and walked away. Then again I have no business asking him to remember a bunch of Latin names I can't get straight in my old head myself.
Some sources about succulents and cacti:
Terry Hewitt, The Complete Book of Cacti & Succulents
Debra Lee Baldwin, Designing with Succulents
Baldwin, Succulent Container Gardens
Miles Anderson with Terry Hewitt, The Complete Guide to Growing Cacti & Succulents
About the mysterious world of botanical Latin:
Bill Neal, Gardener's Latin
Also a really useful website for plant names in Spanish, Latin and English, developed by the Oaxaca Garden Club: