Wednesday, June 27, 2012

FELINE AND CANINE        LALO   aka Bundle of Joy aka Garden  Menace and unidentified stray cat, enjoying peace, quiet and shade at home.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012



THE US ARMY in a futile attempt to smooth things out conducted race relations classes among darkies and whities. It was 1975, I a freedom fighter. Once bored to death, I heard some negro tell the group their nemesis smelled like wet chicken, while the whities declared it was the contrary.

15 years later, in Holyoke, MA, while working as a vocational counselor,  I heard Vincent, a negro in MA, tell a co worker: "We all look alike but have different names".

THAT IS our subject for today. Plants that really look alike but are evidently different, at least when their blooms show.  Hymenocallis pedalis is one I keep in a bucket to avoid snails or slugs munching on it.  I have had this bulb for the last five years, changing its location from ground to pot, until It became a waste of time. The culprits always found their way until the last six months.

They are pretty scarce now, can be counted with both hands, while previously I could count a hundred in a month. The same with bees and beetles. They are mostly gone.

This plant is pretty weird since It has bloomed in the worst heat wave I have observed in the last five years, with 26 six days in a row with temperatures over 90 Farenheit, with you know, the feeling of 100.

The surprise was disconcerting, when I saw white instead of the orange I had seen before, in one of this look alike creature.  The other is Hippeastrum reticulatum, it has not shown its color yet.

The Hymenocallis has besides the beauty, fragrance. The flowers may remind you of Crinums.  It is difficult to define it. Vanilla comes to mind, with some hints of Nerius Oleander, Cananga odorata  and one in the collection,, Eucharis amazonica. 

I declare now Hymenocallis pedalis officially a member of my over 100 collection.

 that is that

Friday, June 22, 2012


FOR  the last few days I have been moving into other prairies with certain curiosity. There is this EWA*, with a rare blog, impressive photography and all types of gardening practices in Europe.

She belongs to a  VIP gardening group of best 50.  I have been checking out the scene to see what is the deal.
It is not complicated, most of them blogs have over 500,000 visitors, written in English and originate in template/cold climates.

So long for my chances to belong!  Nevertheless the humble critic has discovered not all is peaches and cream among the chosen ones.

Just one example. There is somejuan with palm tree infatuation syndrome.  Well, he has a perfectly fine space with vegetation of all kinds and apparently a great deal of  shade. 

He decides to plant them palms and  below some yucas or agavaceas in the border, ruining the whole smooth flow of the composition!  I believe  when planting these 3 kinds of vegetation, a wise gardener should consider their natural habitats in any possible context and climate. How, where they grow. With such a simple forethought,  ruining any installation thinking you are being  cool, original, following trends or being cute will be avoided.

The light post trunk in most palms, texture, huge size, astronomical seeds and form of  leaves, clash with everything else in the composition. It is unbelievable how so many gardeners of  the aimless persuasion without any training/skills and the rest, from whom one would expect or demand a little sophistication, fall for it.

Another example is  the odd ways to make statements of the garden rant breed claque.  One lady gardener planted a tomato right centered in her postage stamp sized lawn.

The photos at left show a garden, recently installed by two foreigners across our residence, It is about 15' square if that..Their gardener, one of those blow and cut types, so popular in the USA, just from a different ethnic enclave, spent 8 hours  under the sun.

Digging and planting under the foreign deaf and apparently with arthritis, lady supervision. All the vegetation is planted in rows like a tomato, potato, lettuce edible garden.

Everything without the minimal common sense. The plants will grow, making the walking through impossible. Such is life.  Here, there and everywhere judging  from my constant virtual visits to other latitudes.

On top of that, forget the aesthetics, I do not care anymore if a garden stinks of not.  The water waste to keep all this crap alive, with a hose twice a day.

Common sense is over rated. How would you explain building suburbs, creating spaces in which most jerks/jerkettes can not do anything without driving?

Hybrid automobiles to stay in a traffic jam, using the electricity from the batteries?  Not moving, or moving ten miles an hour as in California?

Nuclear reactors? Providing clean energy with radioactive waste lasting hundreds, thousands of years and requiring burial in 'safe' underground storage facilities? 

That is that. I am worn out.



Thursday, June 14, 2012


THE archbishop Plumeria, in the north side garden,  has been featured before. Me wife was commenting how good it was looking and its possible relocation was discussed yesterday. 

This post is about the whole process.  It took five hours with an intermission.  The tools are there, except the gloves.  There are many gardeners of all persuasions, some are excellent, good and meaningless.

However, not many break concrete pavements to plant anything. In my case, it started thirty years ago in our mostly concrete back yard in Savarona, before the foreign occupation, in the Caguas Country. 

During our four years here, I have dug five holes in the north where most vines are. Three in  the east, plus the same procedure for 3 French drains in the south pavement.

A third of the hole was filled with the compost I collect daily. The sand left will be recycled for future projects. 

That is that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


THE arrival of the summer more often than not remind most people of the absence or presence of water.  This post has been on me mind for some time, it will be useful for some, less for those living in a rain forests.

One of the few posts I have ever seen about irrigation or water use issues, is the one below. Some ancient cultures of both hemispheres were wise to develop with primitive tools brilliant irrigation systems and the transport of water for agriculture and city folk. If you are interested, check that out in *.

Los Qanat en el Medio Oriente  


The tittle H20 pretends to  cover most issues dealing with water use in  gardens or agriculture, if I may.   But keeping the scope wide one should remember any presence of water requires drainage. Its  absence,  irrigation, requiring drainage also. In consequence, the composition and texture of your soil will make things easy or difficult in the garden or even in pots, for them plants.

There are quite a few ways to irrigate. Subsurface irrigation, surface, border strip, furrow, sprinkler, hand-move, solid-set, traveling-gun, center-pivot, wheel-move irrigation and trickle or drip irrigation.  If you are curious go ahead and do a little research on those you never imagined existed.

If you are into landscaping or just gardening the most relevant are drip or sprinkler irrigation.  

Now  if you read this blog or some others, you probably take gardening seriously, more than the average ignorant environmentalists quacks over here.  Your  type of soil, average temperatures will determine when and how often, for how long your plants require H20.

The soil in our garden is 95 % sand. With temperatures in  the last two weeks over 90 degrees Farenheit (feeling like 100*), I check some plant indicators to determine when is the right time.  In  our garden, some plants with show heat stress before others may even feel a little discomfort.

The point is to keep everyjuan happy on one hand.  On the other is plant selection. If I had planted rain forest plants in my almost desert garden,  even in  total shade,  eventually the high temperatures will kill, anything even with tons of water.

I use a 40'  drip irrigation hose, very effective if placed flat on the ground, a hose with multiple water flow control, and a Dram watering can. 

There are formulas to determine how much water/time it takes one inch of H2O to cover 1,000 square feet of turf, go on find out.  Mine is simple, I use a five gallon measure. Depending on water pressure, low, it takes 15 minutes to fill the recipient. I let the water drip for an hour in one spot or move every 15 minutes, depending on the area and what is planted.

For vegetation in pots, I keep a 55 gallon barrel in the east garden to collect rain water or fill to let the boron/clorox evaporate. I do not have issues with salt by capillarity since I rotate/change the soil frequently.

What the hell is that?   When you keep plants in pots forever, the constant watering lets the salts in water and soil to accumulate, coming up, forming a layer on  top of your soil or even in the  surface of clay pots, turning them white. 

The concept of capillarity is best understood with any paper towel, place one sheet on a wet surface see what happens. Thats good to know if you want to irrigate plants when you are not home. With a rope or rag in water and them pots below, they will remain watered for some time.

The opposite is also true. I you have a pot that gets flooded by soil compaction, placing the rag/rope on top will force the water down the fabric. 

I am getting tired. I hope this may give you a hint of the wide, deep and covering all our life issue of water, even if you never planted anything.

*Fecal waters and its treatment is another issue, since it is also H20.   It is pertinent to mention it since some of it is being used for irrigation in some parts of the world. Beato, our friend in alcantarilla, mentioned above, is an authority on the H20 subject, you name it you could find there. 


Oops almost forgot the other *, what is that crap of weather  people telling us is ninety but feels like 100?  Why not is a hundred and leave it at that?

and that is that

That is that...





Monday, June 4, 2012


WHEN Diva passed away more than a decade of experiences  in the garden became only memories, some dustier, happier than others.

We both were in the same age bracket and moved, acted accordingly.  She was a trained, educated dog using the water closet as needed.  Often, when there was an urge to play, she would grab one of her favorite toys running up and down the hall, flapping, letting it fall grabbing it again...or would bring it to our knees as the signal to play.

Diva used to play outdoor with anything that moves, pigeons, birds, lizards, flies, beetles, running behind every stray cat surprised on the premises, trampling once in a while plants in specific locations, mostly corners.

LALO is everything DIVA was not, in pertinent issues. However, one and the other expressed affection, joy, gratitude and loyalty constantly. 

But here is the problem. LALO was a stray dog,  Fortunately he poops and piss in the concrete, same area Diva used to in the sand corner, perhaps by watching, learning from her. But let me tell you if is solid is not a problem to clean after him, when is not. things change. Piss on concrete not only smells but looks gluey...

When those agencies doing good deeds inviting the public  to adopt pets, forget to mention this simple issues, it most be a pain in  the arse for the gullible, to discover it, no matter how much love, good is in your heart.

All the above does not matter if you are a pig  as our next door dog killers or a dysfunctional matrimony I know with a dog pissing and pooping inside their almost trailer concrete house 24/7. Or another one with a dog who never visits the vet, no matter what, to save money.

But it really matters, if you have a plant collection, some more valuable, very difficult to find than others.  If you get them from a nursery, you have nothing to worry, there are thousands of the same.

I just had to relocate five plants in a corner since our new companion stands in two legs to bark and scare the stray cats next door, trampling all on his path.

The problem is somewhat annoying, being a young dog, the energy displayed is intense.  Lizards are no longer safe in our garden, no matter where they are, Lalo will jump on the friendly guys scaring, and I have no doubt, killing them without  intention.

The moral of the story?  Lalo is now healthy, clean,
funny and somewhat a menace for flora and fauna in the garden.  I have made adjustments to deal with the new situation  day by day.

But think carefully before adopting a dog if you have a garden, unless you have money, time, energy, commitment and good will. 

Pets and gardens have the same needs: time, water, food, care, affection, dedication and lots of patience.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


IN SPANISH you only need one word to express the tittle: al reves, or as some children prefer al verres.

The world presented in the news media BBC or RTVE is clear evidence of this post tittle.  Honesty is no longer the best policy. Embezzlement is.

Puerto Rico has become a stand up comedy sketch/situation where politicians, bankers, lawyers, analysts, stock brokers, academicians continue speaking, acting as if reality the collapse of the economy, bankruptcy of  morals, state, family, law, church and law does not matter or one could live without it. One should live pretending, looking the other way.

FB is a  good example of  average men/women perceptions and understanding of the paragraph above. Not one little bit of the whole or a part. Their lives aiming for drinking/eating and sharing enlightening  quotes from any source, matching  their daily moods, simple personalities, for us, friends or not.

One hundred years ago Rex Vicat Cole, expressed it  much better in The Artistic Anatomy of Trees, page 18.

Landscape painting is, I fancy, but little understood even amongst the educated.  It does not surprise one that the yokel should eye a painting as a coloured topographical inventory of his countryside and praise the performance in proportion as room is found for every well-known object, each exactly where it should be.  I know a farmer much perplexed because a painting of his farm was sold for a larger sum of money than the farm itself soon after realised, and this though the pond, old sheds, and the very ducks themselves were included.  He wonders yet at the stupidity of the picture-buyer, who, by a less expenditure, could have sat by the real pond and gazed daily at his farm.

Much the same attitude is assumed by the better educated when they ask, "How do you find such a beautiful place and was it exactly like that?"  You must say it was identical, blade for blade and leaf for leaf, or your reputation as an honest man is lost.

The moral of the story?  Some colleagues in the blogosphere-- not necessarily in the horticultural  practice-- think they are out of reach from this miserable times, untouchable and unsinkable. God bless their hearts.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I HAD been close by the end of Gilberto Monroig avenue, in Santurce some time ago. Savarona my original barrio has nothing like it.  Yesterday I saw and conquered...

Alleyways have always captivated yours truly. I have strolled by a few some in Boston and New York.  They are familiar in ancient cities of the world. I can not be precise as to why these spaces to walk, dividing, a frontier if I may, are so fascinating to my eye.

Maybe is the anarchic irregularity of their ways, shapes, forms as the cliche goes. The one of the video clip is one of the most interesting.  There are perhaps 40/50 between Borinquen avenue and Baldorioty de Castro, who knows? ?

Some alleyways are straight, curved, in angle but none have 3 ways to get in/out as this one. Not that I know of. The rarest of them all are a few not far from our residence with a trompe l'oleil character.

You see the entrance  getting the impression of an exit.  But some steps down the way you realize is a dead end.  Or the contrary, you walk down certain there is no exit and abruptly to left or right there is a 4' path to go through.

Most alleyways I have visited are south/north but plenty go east/west.
All are interesting.  In Santurce mostly poor people live nearby alleyways, the land  zone was water, a mangrove 80 years ago.

It was landfill with anything available, palms, coconuts, debris, you name it.  Poor people from the country side looking for their better future, a job in the city.

Those are essentially the origins of the neighborhood still populated by USA rican islanders, but too many  pockets have been occupied by invasive islanders of the west. A real pity and irritating situation, noticeable during my strolls when I hear that peculiar hillbilly way of speech and loud music.

I believe alleyways have a possibility to become attractive to tourism for people in good physical shape. Those who enjoy the walking as I do, with the bonus of an oasis in the middle of nowhere, with our own people,  two hundred meters from our finisterre, the lands end of Gilberto Monroig avenue.

that is that

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