We’re back in New England, where the autumn chill is setting in, relying on Team Nana to keep our Mérida house in order. Team Nana consists of the property managers, the architects/project supervisors (still on the scene while the house is under warranty), and their own employees and contractors, plus the contractor’s subcontractors. Why did I ever think I’d just need to pay someone in the neighborhood to check the mail now and then?
We agreed this week, based on the recommendation of the person who designed our garden, to increase the landscaping budget at Casa Nana, from two to six hours a week. We approved the purchase of some tools, and bought additional irrigation sprinklers, too. The greenery is coming in very well, as it should with all this rain, but it takes constant taming.
A couple we know said they have a gardener come in daily, four hours a day. I was tempted to think they must just enjoy having the gardener over — maybe he’s a bit of eye candy — but when we visited their property, I could see that they, too, didn’t go for the low-maintenance yard design of gravel and a few potted plants. We all come in to Mérida saying we want something simple, but then we get ambitious, and optimistic that it won’t be too much for us.
Stuff grows here, all year ’round, which is a change from where I’m from. We’ll soon be saying goodbye-for-now to our gardener in Connecticut. And we’re saying a big hello to our gardener in Mérida. If only we could get weekly photo reports like we did when we were building the house.
Plants, and at least one tree, were evacuated when the contractor had to return to dig some drains. It seems our ground is a little less absorbent than we had hoped, so we installed drains in two of the courtyards. We were there in time to see the plants returned. I was really happy to see the Flor de Mayo in good shape. When we were back home, and we got pictures of the center courtyard drain, all I could think was “where’s the tree?” It was being kept in a safe location all along. Even our little ground-cover plants were being cared for in their own little pots and returned to the “green cube,” a tiny courtyard behind the casita that is visible from the master bedroom and bath.
When we were in Mérida last, it almost looked like we were watching one of those time-lapse films that make things move even faster. A flower on our “Buddha pond” got bigger and bigger during our 10-day trip. I think it probably peaked a day after we returned home. Ah well, there will be more flowers. We also spotted some fairly fat goldfish. We were expecting just guppies and mollies, but now there’s an even larger army of mosquito-eaters to guard our property.
We were so pleased to see how lush, if a little incoherent, the rear garden was until our garden designer pointed out that some plants were being suffocated under the purple sweet potato vine, which needs to be pruned back regularly.
Sure enough, on closer inspection, we saw other varieties hidden under the aggressive plant’s vines. So we not only need more gardening, but our gardener needs more training. This is why the yard looked a little jumbled. Plus, right now the plants are more or less the same height because they’re still babies. Look closely, and you’ll see the foxtail palm in the center. That’s what we need to see sprout up and anchor the yard.
The tenants who were there several months had been training their own person to care for the yard, and even pulling weeds themselves(!), but they are long gone. Without their stewardship of the grounds, we are directing things the best we can through the property managers while being over 1,000 miles away.
Evenings on the terrace, which face the backyard and our master-bedroom casita, were glorious. I was finally able to sit in the house with just Paul on one side, and a Rob Roy in my hand. (More on Rob Roys later. Yes, I’m afraid I’m still droning on about bitters,)
On the casita wall, still a little naked because of the tree we cut down, the lights behind our bendy sour orange tree cast a shadow. Viewed to the sound of our chirping lizards, it’s prettier than anything we could have deliberately designed.
Even prettier after a couple of Rob Roys.