We’re right on the cusp of a magical moment here on Lake Chapala’s shores. After just a couple of decent rain storms, the ground has softened and turned moist, ready for new growth to sprout.
One day you glance up at the neighboring mountains and see a parched, brown landscape. Then all of a sudden, in the mere blink of an eye, the terrain is transformed into a lush emerald green, the once sere, scruffy bushes now resembling giant stalks of broccoli.
We’re in the time of year to revel in our gardens. Folks who enjoy working the earth can enjoy the thrill of planting veggie beds for summer harvest and watching flowering plants blossom. Even black thumbs like myself can succeed in our forgiving land where fence post are prone to take root and put out leaves.
Since I have a short attention span for garden work, a limited effort goes to a small herb patch just below the kitchen window. It’s the spot for cooking and salad essentials like chives, oregano, marjoram, basil, mint, sage and epazote for the bean pot. There’s also space for a basic medicinal plants for the family hypothecary such as arnica to treat bumps and bruises; aloe vera to soothe burns, cola de caballo, a remedy for troubles of the urinary tract; calendula to prevent the infection of cuts and scratches; citronella to fend off mosquitoes; and a lavender bush with fragrant flowers that alleviate frazzled nerves.
The grunt work is left to Victor, the jardinero par excellence who this week has been transplanting the zinnia shoots started at the perfect time to fill flower beds with cheery, rainbow-hued petals throughout the next couple of months. Without instruction, he has already prepared for the heavier labors of the rainy season by tuning up the lawn mower and weed whacker. Once regular rains kick in he’ll roll up the hoses that have kept our patch of grass, flowering shrubs and other plants alive through the scorching temperatures of Spring.
Nature lovers can take advantage of the green season to put in plants that attract wildlife. I know from experience that zinnias appeals to butterlifes. Señor Google also suggests phlox, coneflower, lantana, marigolds, black-eyed susan and heliotrope among others.
Anything with red flowers is a surefire magnet for hummingbirds and, according to ecologists, a healthier choice than plastic feeders filled with fake nectar. Don’t forget honey bees, the helpful pollinators under worldwide threat of extinction, that rely on natural flower nectar to survive.
Expats who have acquired patriotic sentiments for their adopted south-of-the-border homeland, might think of planting dahlia bulbs in the yard. The pretty blossoms are recognized as Mexico’s national flower.
For those who can’t be bothered with garden chores, just ignore all the above suggestions. Spend the rainy season lazing about and let Madre Naturaleza tickle your fancy.