Thursday, August 30, 2012


IF YOU are a regular on these pastures you may remember I was trained in the NY Botanical Garden in Commercial Horticulture Landscaping  Management, the classes for the certificate of 162 hours are similar in many aspects to those for a degree in agronomy.

SO what? If you are a landscape architect, garden designer, gardener, plantsperson, garden writer, monitor or dirt environmentalist  or anything related but not mentioned.

 Simple. Any type of gardening in the long run cost money one way or the other.  Please remember that energy spent trimming/pruning
planting equals money if you are working for somejuan else. However if Juan is working for you it is  at your expense..

This beautiful photo demonstrate a paradigmatic installation anywhere in Puerto Rico, rainforest or desert like eco-region.  Everything, no matter where you go is the same with little variation in the inventory (about 15 species), even the stupid curves are the same. The lawns are always cut too short,  to save a little money with less maintenance visits to the proprietor.

Since the proprietor does not know elbow from arse, this practice kills the lawn eventually, lacking height to photosinthetize. For the maintenance company is cool, since a new lawn is a fresh chance for billing.*

When you plant anything so close to a lawn, the blow/cut companies or individuals will screw up what is not lawn, trees, bushes and plants. What do they care?  and forget about placing anything as a border/ costs money.

Money, money...If you are a banker, stock broker, real estate speculator  or similar, skip this post, the state/politicians in your country will pay, or the IMF, you will always have money no matter if you embezzle it or is lost in toxic loans, at least in the Eurozone.

If you are not, please take this into consideration. Noise and pollution, strangers in your property once or twice a month, making your life and of that of your neighbors miserable with trucks, trimmers, blowers, lawnmowers. A lawnmower on, for an hour,  pollutes as much as an automobile  driven in a 20 mile ride (CO2).

How does one should calculate the billing, individual or company?
The cost to the customer should include: the cost of oil, gas, propane, including the time and distance to and from the site where the work is to be done,  depreciation of equipment, trucks and else, men/hour, and anything that cost money.  Once this is done you determine how much the fool on the hill hiring you is going to pay by day, not hours.  The wise ones have two rates, one for trimming/pruning one for lawns.

In Puerto Rico, most gardeners/butchers for hire get  50 USA dollars a day.  In the majority of the cases there is  no social security, days off except Sunday, vacation, sick time, just like cheap labor is treated anywhere in the world. There is not much difference in the private or public sector..  Forget about security equipment when using trimmers or pesticides, it cost money. 

The advantage of having some training mentioned above is that  any views are not capricious, arbitrary; when any garden sucks, in  nine out ten, they are also costly and polluting.  There are variables in  aesthetics, but that is second fiddle in my opinion. Another handicap stink gardens have, is a lack of connection with the flora, fauna, eco-region context surrounding, just a caricature.

One post in mind: The Impossible Dream or looking for some beauty on this neck of the concrete/asphalt garden installations.

that is that

* Working with David Ramirez, operating in the Alto Apolo housing projects moons ago, I noticed too many white flies on the Ixoras to be installed in some property.  When told of the problem he stated:
' Do not worry, just plant them, later I will drop by, spray some and get a little money on the side'. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


  AFTER the sudden and undeserved notoriety -oink-yours truly has achieved during the last couple of days in the East Indies, far, distant and unknown for most beings, human and not so, also South America for the fellows in Blotanical, the West Indies have  more ethnic variety, and  historically if I may..besides a wider, musical and gastronomical spectrum.

At any rate, I decided to visit the worthy constituents followers of that island mentioned a couple of weeks, or was it a week?  I found a couple of peculiar things that will require an objective description-no photos needed-to share what some think of their garden or somewhat simple/complicated concepts as ZEN.

Some lady takes a photo of her jungle like back yard, a concrete plastered square in the center.  In the left side, a gas grill with plastic cover.  To the center a table/umbrella with four chairs very clear they are from Home Depot.  There was something else I can not recall but left no doubts in me mind, when I saw it Home Depot garden displays or Green Industry convention exhibitions  hit me hammer like.

Besides these accessories adding beauty, there was a palm tree in the back surrounded by dk vegetation, mostly folliage, in the front of all,  a banana tree. Believe it or not, in Florida.  The suggested feeling to the author of this creation?  'My  ZEN moment of the week or day', can not remember which.

This made possible a new Eureka moment,  new concept, caricature gardening, coined by yours truly. Search for the exact meaning of the word and you will have to share my view.  All the elements mentioned result in a grotesque. absurd space that many, too many people think as cool, acceptable and attractive. 
 Huerto agrochic de marilyn

THIS aberration is horrendous!  Yet, if you have never read a few words about gardening composition or the elements of gardening design you will too, find it attractive.  The terrible thing is that it was featured in a site from Spain in which the most documented garden in the Caribbean appeared before. I have the suspicion that anyjuan who sent this crap, did it in spite, you be the judge.

Bai di guei, the one in Florida was not prettier than this one in Puero Rico. I have been accused of many things-oink- but not being brutally critic against my own breed is not one. This should  I make  a suggestion, not a command, to meditate.  If I started my path in this vale of tears with my own, what makes you so special?  If your garden really sucks and I or anyjuan with trajectory says so, kindly inquire why/how or otherwise shut up, humbly. Accept you have made mistakes, too many, being proud of it. 

 that is that



IF YOU like the garden on top, you will certainly love this one also. Check the beauty and imagination in the design and colored stones, a real miss match of texture, the more the merrier. Remind one of those paintings 4 year old do in the nursery.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


WHEN I decided to share my views on the practice, the inspiration were a couple of foreign jerks who destroyed five hectares of soil in Trujillo Alto.  Pretty please, with sugar on top, remember that for perspective and focus or dissident views, there is room for all.

I became a creative horticultural critic by need, an urge to denounce stupidity, not from the illiterate foreign illegal/native hired worker for peanuts gardener, but in my case, a Phd from the NY Botanical Garden and his wife, an 'agronomist'.  After all, there are movies, theater and literature critics. The abysmal difference between those and yours truly is that I practice the skills likewise my peers, foes and/or friends, those I criticize. In addition to criteria, trajectory and credentials.



The critic has always been called a judge of literature,  which means not that's he is in a superior position to the poet, but that he ought to know something about literature, just as a judge's right to be on a bench depends on his knowledge of  law. If he's up against something the size of Shakespeare,
he is the one being judged.  The critic's  function is to interpret every work of literature in the light of all the literature he knows, to keep constantly struggling to understand what literature as a whole is about.

Literature as a whole is not an aggregate with red and blue  ribbons* attached to them. like a cat show, but the range of articulate human imagination as it extends from the height of imaginative heaven to the depth of imaginative hell.  Literature is a human apocalypse, man's revelation to man, and
not a body of adjudications, but the awareness of that revelation, the last judgement of mankind .

Humility allows those truly humble, to find connections between apparently disconnected fields. If you change literature for gardening/horticulture in the excerpt above, you will, unless you are a real post colonial, Lady Gunga Din, fashionista from the East Indies, with a distant, British blue blood syndrome airs, tropical 5 o'clock tea and crackers, fish and chips wrapped in newspaper,  driving in the wrong lane, clockwise, you will notice that just  like literature, theater, movies.....whatever nojuan will be allowed to wash his/her the legendary judge in the Bible. oink ,oink.

Antigonum has spoken/written,
children you may now leave in peace

that is that

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The Norton Reader
4th Edition
page 218

Suppose you are walking down the street of a North America city*.  All around you is a highly artificial society but you don't think of it as artificial: You are so accustomed to it that you think of it as natural.  But suppose your imagination plays a little trick on you, a kind that if often does play and you suddenly feel like a complete outsider, someone's who just flown in from Mars on a flying saucer.

Instantly you see how conventionalized everything is; the clothes, the shop windows, the movement of the cars in traffic, the cropped hair and shaved faces of the men, the red lips and blue eye lids that women put on because they want to conventionalize their faces or "look nice" as they say which means the same thing.  All this convention is pressing toward uniformiry or likeness.

THERE is clearly a strong force making toward conformity in society so strong that it seems to have something to do with the stability of society itself.  In ordinary life even the most splendid things we can think of,  goodness and truth and beauty, all mean essentially what we are accustomed to.

I was skimming through the pages of the book mentioned above, when I found this critical essay on literature, perhaps the best I have ever read.  While reading, I could not help to extrapolate, thinking, picturing many gardens I have observed in person critically and/or virtually, the latter a majority. 

The dreadful scenery that surrounds me, a soundtrack with irritating noise possibilities in an urban context moved along as a photo play, your humble servant feeling just  like the mentioned character from Mars.

That is the way I have felt this island since I was 15. The difference is that finally, at 61, I have been finding explanations thanks to gardening and horticulture, flora/fauna, habitats and nature.

Convention is what makes possible those beautiful lawns, golf courses, palm trees, hedges and over used plants,  mutilated trees, dead trees standing, pollution of all kinds
aimless, useless gardens requiring lots of irrigation, men/hours without many people wondering, thinking or even noticing what is wrong.

Now it is time to go.  The terrible thing is that while I am writing about gardening, aesthetics and foolish conventions in the practice, the problem cover other manifestations of life, ours and theirs (flora/fauna) in any continent extrapolating and all.

From the editor
*or the city where you live.

Friday, August 24, 2012


IF YOU have never witnessed one, you may wonder is it like the movies, 'Key Largo', comes to mind, weather channel report?  Yes and No. The way people in Puerto Rico react with the news is always the same.  Happiness for owners of supermarkets, gas stations, hardware stores, with lots of profits to make.People and populace, in general, buy food stuffs, ice and alcohol as if there is no tomorrow for their particular funeral like celebration.

The first hurricane I remember, took place in 1956 or 57.  We spent the night accross our street, in one of the few concrete houses in the Munhoz Rivera street in Caguas Country.
The owners of the property allowed everyjuan to stay out of duty
more than neighborly love.  My child memories do not show most men worried at all, it was a celebration, Probably with Palo Viejo, my favorite fire water. 

I remember the next dark, windy and wet morning, electrical and telephone wires hanging loose, back and forth, moved by the wind. I can see at this moment, with little effort, me mother pushing holes in the cardboard like ceiling to let the accumulated water flow.

Among other hurricanes worthy of this post  there is one Hurricane Carter, a boxer, probably welter weight or middle my favorite then.  He went to jail for some crime that Bob Dylan among others thought he did not commit. Let the record show  that  boxing, football are sports prone to leave those in the practice, with mental senility or Parkinsons, another convention.  I declare I still enjoy boxing during the Cassius Clay era, but there is nothing I can do about what took place already, only in the future/present one may influence if  any radical change take place. What about that despicable sport of bullfighting?  Cultural significance is the excuse! Not to get into the foolish San Fermin, festivities. A great source of tourism and income. Barbarians with spoons!

The most recent, memorable Katrina, left the USA in shambles.  However, looking at natural phenomena, one should separate stupidity in actions, construction, dikes and such with the inevitable:
strong winds and lots of water create costly damages as a result of foolishness.

When I saw one of those huge ships in the Mississippi, it was scary as hell, after all is a river, no matter its size. Now if you consider  width, length and depth, how can any sane person
believe one can contain it in  the receptacles built to keep it straight in its place?  No wonder  Louisiana and near by states were left like crap!

Now lets move to tornado STATES, probably around 12. Why do they insist on using wood for construction?  Every time one of those hundreds of tornadoes hit their target, everything looks like tooth picks blown at random. Why not build underground?  What is wrong with the  imagination of architects, engineers, government agencies, people and populace? 

In Puerto Rico, is no different! Regarding electrical wires, logic demands underground wiring. Imagine, if the retards in charge of those issues had any imagination, every damned wire would be underground. More expensive to build but cheaper to maintain in the long run, unless I am a retard also.

All the above, if you have imagination, or if you make a little effort putting things in a wider scheme of things has to do with convention, being conventional.  

That is our-in the third person- I hate so much, our project for the following post, in literature and gardening.  Think about it.

until then


Sunday, August 19, 2012


THE owners of these properties, one is vacant,  belong to the lowest of them castes anywhere. Pure and simple riff raff.  Noisy, uneducated hogs.  Any Christian principle of god fearing people would be tested by these bastards and bastardettes. We live in the middle.

Yet, thanks to their lack of maintenance--our garden not the most manicured in the world by any standard-- looks like a million, at least in my eyes.

That on one hand, on the other, this unedited vegetation, mostly grasses, broad leaf weeds and shrubbery of different kinds offer some visual relief against concrete or perhaps worse, bare soil.

Besides,  the flowers and seeds provide nectar and food for birds and insects;

I could, with simple shears and hand pruners do some editing to improve the wild appearance but they do not deserve it.  Let the urban prairies be, our flora and fauna will appreciate it. 

that is that 

Thursday, August 16, 2012


There are a few characteristics in our garden that stand out for the initiated and  unnitiated in the gardening practice.  It is beyond of likes and dislikes, it is there. 

BEJUCO* is the voice used in the Spanish speaking Caribbean to describe plants (vines) with long flexible stems that utilize other plants for support.   
Vines  may be herbaceous or woody.  The first mae firs are reduced in size with a limited disttibution mostly in thickets, secondary succession places and roadsides.    Wneh woodyWhen woody, the vines are known as lianas and reach large extension size with  branches occupying mostly fhe forest canopy, entwining the trees
and making the forest more dense and resistant to strong winds. 

Vines are more abundant in  tropical forests, constituting up to 40 percent of plant species.  In the West Indies, lianas constitute up to 8 percent of the flowering plants in rainforests.  In Puerto Rico there are approximately 300 native and naturalized vines and lianas constituting more or less 10 percent of the flora. From this total, 46 species were introduced, mostly for ornamental reasons or other purposes.

Vines stems are flexible and strong, capable to yield and bend when strong winds, move the trees  used for support. When the mechanisms used to hold to other plants are broken, new support points are developed.  Some lianas may reach 270 meters of extension.

The abundant growth of vines in forests affects its environmental conditions.  In the struggle with trees for soil for the roots and light for their leaves, the trees may be adversely affected.

                      Support Mechanisms and Strategies  

Vines may be classified in groups according to the strategy and mechanisms used to hold into other plants to climb.
Twiners vines twist their stems around other plants in a spiral pattern.  Other vines climb by aerial roots producing sticky substances or find support in groves or cracks in tree bark.
Another mechanism consist of organs sensitive to tack and light
known as tendrils, which twist around branches or stems of other plants.

Some vines posses leaves or branches functioning as tendrils. F;exible exended and ramified branches forming a net over circundant vegetation, constitutes another strategy.  Prickles  usually
recurved and found over leaves, stems and branches used to hold
on into other plants is another mechanism.

Adventitous discs (haustoriums) in parasite plants, extract nutrients from other plants and adhere to the host.

Flowers and Exotics from Puerto Rico

Edwin Milner Sola
page 97


If you find the above excerpt somewhat  odd, I do also. The reading  feels almost like one of those Google translators.    I had a chance to chat with the author, Mr. Miner, an old gizzard, not found in the web or trained in the field, who publishes his own books.

The information may be useful for the lay man/woman for further investigation.  In our garden, the information dealing with holding into this or that, is mostly metal, not stems. 

Vines have transformed our property. They provide a ton of shade, privacy and security.  Birds have found grounds for nests, (6 so far in the case of Spindalis), nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles.  

One pertinent issue if one does not like to spend much time prunning, is that you can even use kitchen scissors with non woody ones.      

Now, in my view, those gardens that push you to visit over and over
have some signature. It does not matter how. Some ways are very simple, planting in odd numbers a la ZEN, not in straight lines as I prefer, to name two.  I have wonder why, but there is no logical explanation, I tend to plant oddly.

Topiaries, hedges, trellises and pergolas separate any garden from the  great majority in the gardening scene.  However, I am not fond at all of vegetable triangles/balls and such, even if pruned to Swiss perfection.

*if you search under bejuco de puerco you will find it!

                                        that is that 


Monday, August 13, 2012


WHAT do you know?  It is that time of the year when your humble handsome servant, along with not the best and most documented garden and blog in Caribbean, reach another anniversary.  Thanks. 

Suppose they write a blog and nobody came to visit, even if only to check the spelling mistakes one is prone to make.  At any rate, I have reached 30 pounds lost after a year, and 6 months after discovering I had high blood pressure

There are a couple of nice looking new broad leaf weeds that may be adopted.  One pumpkin, a reflective roof pond/marsh/prairie, pretty soon 600 posts mark .

Best of all the olympics are over.

What a waste of energy, effort and resources just to give the impression of the importance of silly human goals with sacrifices of this and that for a medal, recognition after tons of blood, sweat and tears.

It was impressive. I have many doubts the next ones will get close to the technological advance, organization and display the British demonstrated.

If you could not guess why, the Jamaicans are so fast is their beef jerky and jerky chicken with tons of curry. Ironic how  other countries maintain  athletic programs for high performance athletes.... when curry will do it.

I know I am getting somewhat soft in former rough edges. It is not resignation.  Now I focus more in my garden and alternate ones, instead of focusing in issues that I can not change, many people share in their own contexts.

I feel happy and glad to know there are some people out there doing their best to improve a little their environment/habitat for their own and their flora and fauna.  

On the other hand, I miss my grouchy times..

that is that    


Sunday, August 12, 2012


  THERE so many cool,  hot, dry, wet gardens, blogs, gardeners, photographers, writers in five continents. IMG_2882 

However, really few roof gardens/ponds anywhere until  further notice. The idea began in November 2011, continuing
until now, with surprises planting/ponding wise.

The reflection is a Pterocarpus, the Sanseveria leaves  in the corner, to help keep the organic matter in place.

The same thing but I moved to the right corner of the garden/pond. If you look carefully in the right corner, that green creature is  Cosmos as well as almost everything else in the frame.


The Allocasia at left side is responsible for all these words and photos.  I threw it without much thought in 2011. Then, one day, I took notice of it. There it was, where it still is green, happy and healthy.
Well, it just occurred to me  that  ponds  usually have no organic matter so evident. I will have to stretch it a little, could it be a roof marsh/swamp what is your verdict?
  It is time to hit the road Jack. I leave you with my own reflection, the only little vanity I will allow myself for the time being. Thanks for dropping by,

that is that


Saturday, August 11, 2012


ONE OF THOSE  truly rare avis in this scene, as in a happening,  with taste, credentials, pragmatic to the most with aesthetics and maintenance in mind,  asked your humble servant, what I think about this installation in far away tropical islands of volcanic origins in the middle of nowhere,  a territory of the USA.

The Majorelle,  29 July 2012, taken from,  This Majorelle is  a huge installation with ponds, a pergola, patio and a truly dark indigo blue themed walls and clashing combinations of all kinds of cacti  with palms and vegetation totally at home..

I looked first,  then observed each photo with excellent resolution, focus and such. This could be a subject for the future, nice photos amplify what is ugly, odd, out of place, unusual, the same way it does with beauty and pretty.

The order of those elements or problems that really disturb me after 5 visits, appear  in photos 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11.  Let the record show this installation is not the author's own. What is written below does not concern him, he is not responsible for the good and the bad.

There is too much shade in this long pond. An absurd plant in the middle of it, ruins the essence: to reflect.  The bamboo and palms, everyting too close to the edge.

The blue, yellow and terracota pots besides their uglyness destroy the flow of lines in the pavement.  The shinny smooth surface a hazardous pavement for pedestrians when wet.

The  cacti installation with graffitti is overwhelmingly tight and crowded.  The combination of vertical/horizontal growth, columnar and round, with agavaceas  top a pain to my eyes.  

Photo number six should be stressed everything in sight is vertical, dull and seem unnatural.

7 with tons of cacti by the pond, like one of those movies in which the plot happens but it is not plausible, it is really striking or shocking if I may.

The blue pergola has huge monstera leaves with dried edges hiding what seems to be another pond with some injury to the accident, matching terracota ponds in each side.

Last but not least.  That truly dark indigo blue ruins the possibility of creating a relaxing atmosphere. Instead of brightening the space, already too dark with the excessive and exhuberant vegetation, it makes  the space somewhat wet, somber and sinister... Perhaps it was chosen to avoid the growth of fungi and moss, I see no possible aesthetic reason.   

There are two things I like. One of those blue walls with a nice grilled metal work and a Brugmasia in close up and  the Spanish patio, ruined with pots and palms

In brief, this installation has not only too much vegetation for my taste, but it is crowded, every plant seem to be in top of the other. 

The rule of composition small, medium, large while planting to create
some depth and contrast, is not here. Check the cacti and succulents installation for example, and you will notice the vegetation was planted without any logic in therm of height, shape and grow habit.

The more I thing of it the more irritated I become. One should keep the plant selection in certain spaces. Repetion is fine, but those cacti by the pond totally unncessary and the damn pots everywhere!  I keep plants in pots for lack of space only. If I had such a huge space there will bo pots at all.

Besides the blue and the thrown at random vegetation there is hope for this space. It has the essence to be great.  It would be a matter of editing and some light.

The contrasts in texture and shape or else get lost in all this mix and match of  density of vegetation, colors and too much shade, truly overwhelming.   I got tired looking and now writing. But it has been a great exercise to practice observation with absolute objectivity. Jaha bilingual one.  Thanks to David Cristiani for the suggestion.

The end


the pond 




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