Belated Bloom Day from Mexico


I spent Bloom Day in Mexico, staying with some friends who bought a house there.  (Note to self:  must cultivate more friends who own homes in exotic locations.)  We were in La Penita de Jaltemba, a little town on the Pacific coast about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta, in the state of Nayarit. 

It's a funny town–as far as we can tell, it hardly existed in 1960, and since then the Mexican government has invested in roads, electricity, water, and hospitals so that the entire stretch of coastline can be developed as a tourist destination. And in fact, many Americans and Canadians have bought homes there.  Back in the day–five or ten years ago, or longer–you could get a lot for a few thousand bucks and build a house for not much more than the price of a fancy car. Now the situation is more like this–lovely Spanish-style homes that might cost in the low millions in southern California, but still seem pricey for Mexico in the low six figures.  It's almost as if this community is becoming the new southern California.

So I spent some time pondering the socio-politico-economic-cultural implications of this infusion of Americans and Canadians into an area that was, after all, developed with the specific intent of encouraging us to move here–but it was hard to hold those thoughts in my head for long.  Mostly I floated in the blissfully warm ocean and wondered when my next fruity rum drink might arrive. 

And I imagined the garden I would plant if I lived there.


Bougainvillea is big, of course.  This double variety blew me away:


And you're probably going to have some red ginger.


And a banana tree, from which will eventually sprout actual bananas.


Weirdly, what you see for sale in the market includes roses and geraniums, both of which are pretty tough in this climate.  Go back to el norte if you want a rose garden!


And I suppose a garden is not a garden without a gardener, at least in these parts.

The truly glorious thing to grow in a garden like this is the fruit: mango, lychee, guanabana, papaya, crazy exotic citrus…just add rum!


  1. My sister’s been living in Mexico for 10 years now and would probably warn readers that:
    – there are no mortgages in Mexico for Americans, so it’s all-cash.
    – and there are no title searches, so people have paid their $300K and arrived to claim their new house only to learn it’s not theirs.
    – there are also squatters that must be dealt with.
    – and now that she wants to leave Mexico, she’s learned that she can’t sell her house without being right there to make sure the realtors show it.

    All in all, not a good deal for absentee homeowners.

    And if you happen to be the victim of crime, as my sister has, good luck dealing with the infamously bad police there.

    Her advice? Visit, don’t buy.

  2. Actually many roses will do quite well in a tropical climate and that place being on the Pacific coast in Mexico I will guess it is a relatively dry desert type tropical climate. No black spot or powdery mildew to worry about either. Having said that, roses are just as wretched a plant as bougainvillea, vicious thorny monsters. Roses as shrubs even when they bloom well are not a handsome shrub.

    The closer you get to the tropics the more plant choices you have to grow because of increasing species diversity. Why settle for the wretched same old same old when the abundance of tropical flora offers so many spectacular alternatives to S+M gardening.

  3. Btw, this reminds me to try again to find a gardenblogger in Mexico – esp. someone who’s moved there after years of gardening somewhere in the U.S. – to do a guest piece for us. I’d love to hear what’s different about gardening there – plants as well as practices and the nursery biz down there.

  4. Mexico City is pretty high up in the mountains so roses do just fine there. On the outskirts of town there is a valley that is famous for an old ancient type of rose. I remember people selling them on the sides of the roads and being told that they ship them all over the country – that roses have some sort of significance to Mexicans.

    I spent my summer vacation visiting friends in Colombia and I froze to death – nothing like dressing for the tropics and stepping off the plane to daytime highs in the fifties.

  5. Love the bougainvillea. I dream of bougainvillea 30 feet tall.

    Friends are very nice! Friends with seaside houses, extra nice!

  6. Here in florida bougainvilla are thriving and because of the recent economic disaster alot of homes are being undersold including the beachside areas.

  7. Poinsettias like heat and darkness. Why spend money to make them grow artificially?
    Isn’t there a place they could grow naturally?
    Some plants are better grown in Mexico.

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