Our Future Jungle

All around us, the neighborhood abounds with lushly landscaped tropical gardens. Our development was part of a large finca, and many neighbors have put a lot of effort into re-inventing those former pastures. Several of the properties on our hill are veritable showplaces, simply gorgeous. Those owners are all avid gardeners and love to play with dirt. They know plants, their properties, and their needs very well and they design, maintain and care accordingly. We, on the other hand, are not only completely ignorant of gardening, but we also have no desire to learn. I, at least, actively dislike poking in the dirt and hated it even as a child, when my mother called me outside to help her with her roses. At this later stage in my life, I have the convenient excuse that my back problems won’t allow me to squat, bend or kneel for more than three minutes at a time without dire consequences. Let alone dig. Digging is a definite no-no!

Yet, we had to get started on improving our boring not-so-green space, before the end of the rainy season. To overcome both the lack of knowledge and physical fitness, we farmed out the project to our friends Aad and Marian Veltman, who are not only our property managers, but they also conduct guided tours to Costa Rican attractions through their agency ‘Bunki Tours’. There really isn’t a project the Veltman’s couldn’t handle, including landscaping. We may be hopelessly black thumbed, but at least we know when it’s prudent to delegating!

First, we divvied up the garden space between the two of us. Barry got the front, I’ll supervise a backyard transformation next year. Barry has had visions of, not sugarplums, but jungles lately. Whenever we’re in a jungly area, he points out how much he enjoys the shades and hues of green over green over green and all those rich textures. Veltman’s gave us a tour of their garden so Barry could give them an idea, which plants he likes. Marian and Barry also poured over some books to identify his favorites and to make sure, they’d be reasonable choices for our location. Next Marian took some measurements and draw a plan, which she populated with images of the plants, she intended to use in Barry’s jungle garden. This made it a lot easier for Barry to visualize Marian’s landscape design. Hooray for the digital age!

For this initial gardening project, we decided to landscape only a narrow strip of land between the driveway and the hill behind our house, rather than the much larger main section of the front yard. Since we have to put in an automated drip-system for watering during the dry season, we have to spread the cost over time & space. Barry liked both Marian’s design and her budget proposal, so the next step was getting an estimate for the sprinklers and general labor. That too was approved by El Jefe and the timetable for the work was set into motion.

Day One
saw the removal of the sparse grass cover, most of which was recycled in other areas of the garden. A couple of existing plants were also relocated so that we were left with a cluster of palms in a stretch of wasteland. Our dirt isn’t what you might call quality dirt conducive to healthy plant growth. So the very foggy Day One concluded with the delivery of three cubic meters of happy dirt.




Spread the Joy 😎


Day Two
welcomed a truck piled high with assorted plants. Landscaper Ray and his assistant unloaded and distributed the precious cargo in accordance with Marian’s design plan.





Meanwhile, on the other side of the driveway, our handyman Julio and his crew worked on house maintenance.
Julio is a genius with clever designs for indoor and outdoor projects. Among several repairs and improvements, he welded this coat rack for me. The traditional, wooden racks were not a good fit in our house, so Julio built the perfect one from steel pipes.
Ray and his crew planted furiously all day long.



Nearly done!


Day Three
brought the completion of planting, fertilizing and watering. 


Unfortunately, no progress has been made since. Poor Ray came down with Dengue Fever and hasn’t been able to install the sprinkler system as planned. We’re hand watering twice a day – naturally, Mother Nature decided simultaneously to take a break from her daily deluges! Let’s hope the majority of the greenlings will make it!!


4 thoughts on “Our Future Jungle

  1. Is that the same Ray who plays chess? and one of his workers is named Luis? Ray and Lance's next game would be a rubber match. Your garden looks good.


  2. Looks really cool! Hoffe nur, der Regen zerstört diesen Anblick nicht, wenn er so platzartig runterkommt. Aber eure Pflanzen sind das ja gewohnt! 🙂 Auf ein gutes Anwachsen!


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