Gardening in Ajijic, Lake Chapala, Mexico
My gardening skills, coming from the frozen north, were limited by our extremely short growing season.
Every spring I would contact my contract gardener who would come to the house and we would discuss planting the various geraniums on our back deck and pick the color for the impatiens for our half barrel in front of the house.
My indoor plants barely survived and my Benjamin Fichus was very sad and temperamental to say the least. If I looked at it the wrong way it would turn yellow and all the leaves would promptly fall off.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when moving to Ajijic to find Benjamin Fichus growing in gay profusion everywhere as hedges and archways. It was healthy and happy and hard to keep under control. I also never knew that Poinsettias were, in fact trees and not just potted plants. Navidad is a most beautiful season as all of Ajijic is lush with these crimson wonders.
Here everyone has a full or part time gardener as our growing season is now year round. Most gardeners, however, are good at maintenance but one needs to know something about the different options for your garden. Deadheading, for some reason, is taboo to the Mexicans and is an ongoing source of heated discussion.
There are many very good viveros (garden supply stores) in Ajijic and my favorite is Vivero del Lago across from the Plaza Bugambilias. Karina speaks fluent English and her selection is vast. She also has a wonderful selection of masetas (pots).
Everything grows beautifully here. I have roses in front of my house and in the back garden. I also love the fragrances of gardenias and jasmine. I grow gardenias in pots and evidently uric acid is very good for their health. I do not feel I know my gardener well enough, however, to ask him to supply this service.
Most viveros will be very helpful in helping you plant or revamp your garden with suggestions as to what grows best how and where.
If, however, you would like more help there are two gardening associations available for membership.
The first is the Lake Chapala Garden Club founded in 1977. These people are responsible for the Ajijic Plaza Project started in 2006. They can be contacted at www.lakechapalagardenclub.com There are monthly meetings and everyone is welcome. Their members and meetings explore the many species and practices unique to our area of Mexico.
Also there is The Lakeside Garden Guild which seems to focus more on design. The highlight of the 2008 fall season was their Flores del Mundo (Floral Design Show) which was held in Chapala’s historic railway station November 14th, 2008. This association can be reached at: www. lakesidegardenguild.org
Here in Ajijic beautiful gardens are the norm and they provide great pleasure to even those who are not endowed with proverbial green thumbs.