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New ‘flower of the dead garden’ to open to the public in Tetiz, Yucatán

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Ernesto Tinal Colli poses proudly for the camera with his prized cempasúchil flowers. Photo: Courtesy

A Cempasúchil garden in the small town of Tetiz will open to visitors for eight days starting Saturday.

Cempasúchil (marigold) flowers are closely associated with Día de Los Muertos across Mexico, a tradition that traces its origins back to the ancient city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico. 

Cempasúchil, meaning “20 petals” in the Náhuatl language, was believed to be necessary for spirits to visit the realm of the living by following a path made up of petals. For this reason, it can be found on altars during Día de Los Muertos across Mexico. 

The Cempasúchil garden in Tetiz has more than 800 flowers and hopes to attract tourists to the small town on the way to Celestún from Mérida. 

Earlier: Día de Los Muertos or Hanal Pixán: What’s the difference?

“I get up every day to tend to my garden with lots of love. I am very proud of it and hope that many people visit our community and get to enjoy it,” says the garden’s owner, Ernesto Tinal Colli. 

Cempasúchil flowers come in a wide variety of colors including yellow and purple. But the most popular color flower, especially during Día de Los Muertos, is the bright orange variety. Photo: Courtesy

“If I am being honest, I really started this garden for my wife who absolutely loves these beautiful flowers. So it’s a labor of love in more ways than one,” Tinal Colli said with a grin. 

More than 14,000 tons of cempasúchil flowers are grown every year in Mexico. the states making up the bulk of their production are Oaxaca, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Morelos and Estado de México.

The cempasúchil flower has also been used in traditional medicine in several regions across Mexico where it is used to treat digestive, skin, and respiratory maladies.

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