Thursday, September 29, 2011


Another one died today.

There was no large funeral.

No one but me to mourn the loss.

It was just a matter of finding the right disposal method...a green garbage bag.

You see the deceased was our bougainvillea. Yes, only a plant one would say, but still, it was a loss.

My maternal grandmother had the gift of growing anything. My mom and dad carefully grow their plants from seed, even take in neighbours dying plants and bring them back to life.

My sister and I missed out on this gift. In fact we hang our heads in the shame of it all.

For me, going to the nursery and choosing a healthy, potted plant is a lengthy experience. I carefully look for the healthiest specimen...bring it home and transplant it with care, using the tools my mother taught me..good soil, good fertilizer and patience. I water it faithfully, keeping in mind not to overwater. (I’ve been known to kill a cactus!!!)

Now, I did get pretty good up in Canada after 40 years. Vegetable plants would survive and I even managed a few ‘bumper’ crops of tomatoes. But down here, in the tropics, I’ve discovered a few, new, nemesis’.

The first are grasshoppers.

Oh, not your small, run of the mill insects...noooo these things down here devour palm trees in a matter of days! When it’s quiet, I can even hear them lunching on my palm trees...crunch...crunch...crunch! I would have thought the birds would help me out, but nooo...I’m left, standing guard with a broom and a container to re-locate the intruders. It's not rocket science,I just WHACK the hell out of the branch 7’ high, keeping my eye on the overgrown bug as to where it lands...take the jar...capture it...and walk it out to the street and release it.

Haven’t quite figured out yet how to tag the damn things to recognize the repeat offenders though.

My second nemesis, is the slow moving, fuzzy, cute caterpillars. Yes, nature will eventually turn these little darlings into those every lovely butterflies...but, before that can happen, they have to eat! And they eat ALOT!

I had 3 lovely bougainvilleas...those colourful specimens that the hummingbirds just love. Each plant grew to about 5’ high. My mother would be soooo proud of my gardening skills. Then it happened!

A leaf or two started curling...others looked like a sandwich with a bite taken out of them and after a few weeks and careful inspection each day I saw the offender...a white, bushy caterpillar...sucking the life out of my plants! I would remove each one it to the overgrown lot next door.

A week later, half of each plant was looking like a piece of lace.

I would start each day taking all the little ‘darlings’ into my hand, walking them ever so carefully over to the fence...and throw the little buggars off the property.

After one month I had to cut one plant back to the ground...the next week give the second a really close ‘hair cut’...and today...bury the third.

The moral of this story.

If you see a good sized, healthy caterpillar...carry it away...far, far away from your house. And if you hear faint munching, on a calm summer day, look up...way up...walk around your palm tree...then WHACK the hell out of the branches, watching where the overgrown beast leaps or flies to...hopefully, a neighbours tree. And always keep a container and big broom at the ready.

RIP my sad, looking bougainvillea.

Just a couple of thoughts from 2 Canadians living and loving it in Mazatlan!
Linda and Hub.