by germinatrix | May 15th, 2009
I have been in Mexico, looking for plants. I felt a little Indiana Jones-y crossed with Dan Hinkley – lurking in ruins, beating my way through giant palm fronds, delving into tangled jungles of lushness. Nevermind that I was either in nurseries or botanical gardens while doing this – it felt adventurous nonetheless.
The garden I am doing is near Merida, the capitol of the Yucatan, and this is where the nurseries are. No nursery centers, nothing specialized – just lots of plants. Green, big, leafy plants. And then the color – when it’s there, it is THERE … crazily variegated crotons, manihots, ti plants, and bromeliads. The word of the day is definitely LUSH.
Imagine looking at these beauties in the sweltering heat, the humidity making everything seem like it’s breathing on you. WAIT! Plants ARE breathing on you!
In one nursery, I turned a corner and found myself in a jungle. Tarzan could’ve walked by in a loincloth and it wouldn’t have seemed odd. Hmmm… Tarzan. Me Jane…
It seemed obvious to me that someone had designed this palm planting and then just let it run amok – and it was GLORIOUS! The photos don’t do it justice. Huge fan palms and feather palms, thickets of understory palms like Chamaedorea sefritzii, bigger than I’ve ever imagined. And I’m no stranger to the tropics – I was born in Puerto Rico … but this was something altogether different. These are the plants I am going to get to play with!
One of the most incredible sights was the palm Sabal yapa, or Thatch Palm, which seems to grow nearly trunkless here, so that enormous fans 6 -8ft across grow almost directly from the ground! They are called ‘Huano’ in the Yucatan – I can’t wait to use them! They are so dramatic… but there is no lack of plants with drama around here.
These are still nursery spaces! Here is a ruin that is used for plant propagation. How magical is THAT? As you can see, they just let their leaves fall in place. No blowers here. The only sound you hear is birds and an occasional person singing in the local dialect.
If only my camera could capture the color of this plumeria. It was raspberry, burgundy, pink, and apricot all at once, with a slight iridescence thrown in just in case it wasn’t beautiful enough already. Of course, I grabbed a flower and put it in my hair. I immediately felt more fetching!
And just when I thought I couldn’t take one more drop of loveliness, a clearing opened up and a raised water feature made of stone and filled with blooming water plants nearly killed me with beauty. It was almost too much – but not really. I DREAM of creating outdoor spaces that move people, that affect them and change them, so being in spaces like the ones I was in while in Mexico serve to inspire and reinforce my goals.
And these were just nurseries. JUST nurseries indeed!