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Behind garden walls, a private retreat in García Ginerés

Lush flower plantings in Yucatán? Yes you can.

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our best stories will appear in your inbox every Monday.
Gardens provide privacy from the street when the gardener has a knowing hand. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Photos of Trina Lawry’s gardens on Facebook got our attention last summer. It was the flowering hedge, cultivated for privacy from the street, that had us hooked.

Trina’s house, in García Ginerés, was built for someone who cherishes gardens. So it’s in the right hands. 

A garden path leads to a side door in Trina Lawry’s García Ginerés home. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

“When we lived in the US, we were avid gardeners and spent many hours shopping for plants and working in our garden,” says Trina, who last lived in New Jersey. “When we decided to move to Mérida, we bought a colonial-style home with a courtyard design. Our home was perfect for entertaining and had great flow. But like many homes in Centro, all windows faced the inner courtyard, which was mostly patio and pool. With the high walls in the courtyard, it was difficult to even see the sky. I didn’t think I would miss the sky as much as I did, so we decided to find a home with more open space and a larger lot.”

Before renovations, this 1929 Peninsula Deco home was filled with unfulfilled potential. Photo: Courtesy Trina Lawry

After a year, they finally found it. Constructed in 1929, the home represents the Peninsula Deco transitional period between Art Deco and Midcentury Modern. 

“We knew instantly, literally before we even walked in the imposing front door, that it was the home for us,” Trina recalls. 

Trina Lawry’s terrace opens up to the backyard, including a casita, pool and grill. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

A fragrant ylang ylang tree — a treasured gift from friends — bloomed for the first time this year. The entire yard was designed so there would be a view from every window, and yet some plants are in use to screen off some areas such as the carport, which is shielded from view by a row of limonaria. Mexican petunias line the pathway to the kitchen door. This space became the kitchen garden with herbs, tomatoes, and pepper plants. A lime tree takes center attention in another planting area. From the dining room, the shade garden is visible with tall red and pink gingers, a licuala palm, peace lilies, and anthuriums. 

A backyard garden paradise in García Ginerés has an outside kitchen adjacent to the indoor one. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

In the backyard, the star is clearly the pool, with well-chosen plantings in supporting roles and a lush lawn for visual relief. To define the patio space, “it was separated by large clay pots with dwarf fruit trees on a bed of white rocks, creating the illusion of a wall without blocking the view to the garden,” Trina explains. 

Heliconias and arecas overlook the pool. A pergola and small patio outside the bedroom provide another lovely spot to relax. Oleanders, hibiscus, mandevilla, mussaenda, desert rose, crown of thorns and other flowering shrubs provide the bursts of flowers that Trina wanted. Trina wanted lots of flowers, not all plants flower constantly here and her landscape designer recommends also using plants with different colored leaves and textures. Carissas, draecenas, crotons and durantas provide interest with their multi-colored leaves and different textures. A triangle palm with mini haliconias against a bright blue wall is a focal point that draws your eye. Sansevieria cylindrica with its tall sword-like spikes adds drama in front of the outdoor shower. An allspice tree will provide shade in the future as it grows and a fast-growing thevetia provides dabbled shade on the patio.

Choco the cat strolls the grounds in a Mérida, Yucatán home that’s filled with gardens. Photo: Courtesy Trina Lawry

Her biggest battle is with the leafcutter ants, which apparently have nests under the property. 

“We are constantly looking for plants that the ants don’t like, unfortunately with limited success. Our soil was poor and we need to augment it with micronutrients and fertilizer. But, the best piece of advice we can give is: design the garden together with the house and incorporate a flexible irrigation system into your plumbing. Your garden will thank you, and you will spend more time enjoying the garden and less time walking around with a hose!” 

A version of this story originally appeared in Issue 2 of Yucatán at Home. Subscribe now to see the Spring 2022 issue.

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