by germinatrix | August 26th, 2009
The last two times I was in the Yucatan, it was the dry season. This past time I was there, it was the much anticipated rainy season … and omigod it was so hot and humid, it was like walking through soup. But still, I couldn’t wait to see the site in its full, leafy glory!
It’s funny, down in there in tropical Mexico the rain is so … natural. Here in Los Angeles we have developed a crazy relationship to rain – we want it, but we dread it at the same time. When the rainy season starts in Los Angeles, everyone goes mad – we crash our cars, we hide in our homes and telecommute; we leave our sprinklers on because to us, rain is a mythical god/beast that we don’t really understand. In the Yucatan rain just happens. People take it in their stride. They WALK in the rain! I tried to be cool like everyone else and walk in the rain like it was no thing, but I felt like a crazy neurotic norte americana, wincing and ducking and acting like I was about to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. But soon enough, the moist, sticky air worked it’s magic on me, too – and I started holding my head up high when I felt the droplets begin – I just let it rain!
The difference between the dry season and the rainy season is dramatic. The area around Merida is considered a Tropical Deciduous Jungle – so in the long dry season the forests are bare; there are only a few large evergreen trees like Ficus benjamina, and those are mostly in the ruins of old Haciendas (like this one I’m working on). When it’s dry, all the green you see in the picture above isn’t there – but I love the slender white trunks of these jungle trees … I’m keeping them in the design.
All around the ruins of the Hacienda is the jungle. I know we aren’t going to be able to keep it out, so integrating the advancing jungle with the designed parts of the garden is going to be crucial. I’ve had to open up to really working with nature on this site – mean REALLY. All gardeners work with nature, but working with a Jungle is like working with an ocean – the waves will come whether I plan for them or not! It would be foolish of me to think that my hand as the garden designer is going to be as focused and clear as it is on my usual urban project sites. Nothing I do is going to be as determined as The Jungle will be, so I have to accept it and work with it. What a unique and totally cool opportunity! Kind of primal, don’t you think?
I wish the technology to convey scent via the internet was available, because the smell … the soil, the rain, the mossy green-ness … and there was a tree blooming that smelled exactly like honey. It was heaven! I wish I could bottle that moment and wear it as perfume – but the crucial element is the heat. That sticky, heaviness makes smells bigger; more important. That moist heat is going to make this garden grow like a wild thing! A wild garden swaddled by a Jungle! HOT!