More plants for our insatiable outdoor spaces

01I keep hearing that ya’ll want more photos of the house, and yesterday we got a shipment of plants in, so maybe this is a good time to send out an update on what’s happening with Casa Nana. Mind you, we’re still up in Connecticut, watching hostas and irises bloom, so we’re not in such a tropical state of mind right now. Our house north of the border is much more green than the one in tropical Mérida, where plants are taking hold, except when they are not. These images were sent yesterday by the architect’s staff, a reminder of the old foto Fridays we enjoyed during construction.

So here’s a photo report for the rest of the world. 

Green along the street

Green along the street

Not only did we plant a tree on the street, but we’re lining the service roof with potted plants, specimens that won’t need lots of water. The cacti along the sides might somewhat discourage roof-hoppers.

Center courtyard

Center courtyard

This is the center courtyard, which divides the front of the house and the kitchen/media room. Perviously, these were interior rooms with no access to light and air. Boy, are they getting light and air now, and all of natures other elements. The center courtyard takes up the entire width of the house, with a bridge above to shelter the limestone walkway, which is part of the casa’s center hallway. Salvador Reyes Ríos and Josefina Larraín divided the courtyard into a wet side and a dry side. Both sides seem to be doing well as the plants take hold. A Flor de Maya Mayo tree stands where the matriarch of the house, Dolores, once slept. Paul says the graceful contours of the tree reminds him of a certain Italian oil painting.


The backyard is coming along. We have an underground soaker system for the plants, and it has been adjusted and readjusted to reach all the plantings. A foxtail palm in the center will grow into prominence, giving the yard an anchor point. The “Buddha pond” has been a challenge, but we’re assured that we have to be patient as the water plants grow in before they resemble the demonstration gardens we saw. Guppies and mollies are reproducing in an ecosystem where they eat mosquito larvae and keep the water from stagnating. Its naturalistic design is contrasted with the clear water of the pool that runs perpendicular. I think back to where we first got the idea of having a pond. It was another blog, Bla…Bla…Bla…Ginger!, which inspired us early on. Re-reading Jonna’s post, I’m reminded that these ponds are a lot of work. I’m reminded that everything will be a lot of work, forever.

The rear pond.

The rear pond.

The rear pond, in a tiny square niche that’s behind the casita out back, is one of our favorite spots. There’s a rock garden that you can view from a sunken tub. Like the other ponds, it’s fed by a stone caño. If we’re successful growing some green up the sides, we’ll be able to call this our “green cube.”

Guarding the shower.

Guarding the shower.

A smaller niche is on the other side of the casita, this one between the master bath and laundry room. We can hang towels here, too.

There are also planters along the terraces upstairs, some with herbs, and some with more lush foliage. There are also hard-to-get-to pots behind the exercise/yoga/nap/art/timeout studio that we’ve lost track of.

By the time we return to Mérida in late August, we expect much more green. April showers bring May flowers. Move that old rhyme up a few months and you understand the rhythms of Yucatán. Meanwhile, it’s back to tending our hostas and irises in coastal Connecticut.

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  1. Good luck with the street tree. Our’s keep getting pruned by passers-by who don’t appreciate the greenery as much as we do!

    • Can I ask what neighborhood you’re in? Hopefully not 53, where there is a nice row of them. That’s very discouraging.

  2. I have been following your blog from time to time and am amazed at the beautiful house you are creating.

    • I thank you! It’s not just beautiful, but much more functional than where we live now in Connecticut. We can’t wait to finally live there one day.

  3. We would love to see photos of the inside….
    Amazing work, guys.

    • Thanks so much! We’ll start furnishing it at the end of the year, guys. Right now, the tenants have their own furniture, and it’s been kind of neat to see what Casa Nana looks like with chairs and tables. We haven’t even seen the place in person since early February, so we’re kind of like everyone else — eager to see photos.

  4. It already looks like a tropical paradise! When you get down there, I am sure that it will be even more beautiful.
    “Ponds are a lot of work”… well, gardening anywhere is a lot of work. We’re finally having nice weather in Ohio, and I’m exhausted from working in the garden five to six hours each day for the last several days.

    • And I feel bad for whoever’s going to be doing the work at Casa Nana, too! :) Or maybe having all our gardens enclosed in a smaller, defined space will encourage me to pick up a trowel. We have an acre in Connecticut, which was always overwhelming to me, and the yard was never in shape until we finally found a gardener.

  5. I like your nod to the South. Everything is looking nice, green, and tranquil. Just like you want it.

    • I’ll need some tranquility by the time I actually make it there! Sheesh. Thank you, John! Y’all come back now, hear?

  6. Looks fab Lee. Love the muted colors. AND the natural wood doors. Is the ironwork at the top of your garden walls yours, or the neighbors? I haven’t see anything quite like it – may have to copy you. Our place presently has very lethal looking broken glass.

    • Thank you, Laura! We had the iron put in ourselves, although now that it’s up, I think it’s only a symbolic gesture toward security. We once saw a giant iguana on that wall, and now I’m a little sorry that we’re impeding his path.

  7. The garden in Mérida already looks lovely, and, you didn’t even have to sweat it. Great plan.
    I also like all the little niches you created with the textured walls, climbing plants, statue… and speaking of tending…the ponds will need plenty, unlike your Connecticut hostas. :) At least I haven’t had to water all my new plantings here, with all the sporatic showers we’ve had recently.

    • I just heard that the murky pond is murky because the added new plants, and the dirt has to settle. So we’ll wait for it to become actually pretty.

  8. Ch,erie says:

    Congratulations on the greening and future greening of Casa Nana! What great finishing touches to a grand home!

    By the way, I recently learned the tree is a “Flor de Mayo”, flower of May. I thought I heard the reference to Maya and have mistakenly identified this tree for six years. In Africa it’s called, “Frangipani”.

    As a southern gal from the NC mountains, the contraction for “you all” is “y’all”. Just remove that “ou” and put in the apostrophe. However, I do appreciate it when others use the contraction, misspelled or not. Since you’re a writer, I doubt if spell check has the correct spelling.


    • I don’t even know what possessed me to go all southern in my lead paragraph! As a South Jersey boy I should have said “yez guys.” (“Youse” is more North Jersey.)

  9. Claude Gagne says:

    Beautiful ! Love the outdoor room and those arches .. Love foto Fridays !

    • We lived for foto Fridays. I’d be checking my email every five minutes, and then feverishly uploading it to Flickr to share it with friends. I’m glad you like the photos!

  10. oh I wish you were here, I have so many plants needing thinning and removal, and it is making me sick to chop them up and throw them on the compost pile. I don’t see much space for puppies, you WILL have puppies won’t you?

    • We have them now, in a way. There are three sweet little doggies in residence as we speak.

      • Long walks on the Paseo and managing the various birds visiting the pool, ponds and upper terrace keep Ruby, Nygil and Blue very happy at Casa Nana. And, this week Grandpa arrived!

        • I look forward to meeting all of them! Thanks to you guys and the pups for managing everything so beautifully, Paul.

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