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Thursday, October 6, 2022

The long terrain of Casa 75 is now a corridor of native gardens

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Veronica Garibay
Veronica Garibayhttp://yucatanmagazine.com
Verónica Garibay Saldaña is a Mexican columnist, communications major, and poetry enthusiast. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

The garden in Casa 75, owned by American lifelong friends Pat and Rose, extends through the long terrain where the house is set.

Rodrigo Escamilla, in one of the gardens in the back of Casa 75. Photo: Courtesy

Landscape architect Rodrigo Escamilla founder of JNMX and Andrés Jimenez founder of Archivo vegetal, worked together in the project. Their intention was to create several gardens throughout the home, with native and endemic species adapted to the particular conditions of each space.

The first door to the gardens, which coincides with the pond. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“As the house is set in a long lot, we wanted to create an interesting transition. The owners really wanted the rooms to breathe. So we created different areas thinking of micro-environments. Most of the plants are native, with a flowering, olfactory character, especially at the beginning of the home.”

Detail of the pond, framed by leafier, native plants. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The garden that welcomes you into Casa 75 has a strong floral fragrance. 

Asclepias flowers bring a touch of color to the first garden of the house. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“It comes mostly from the native oregano,” Rodrigo tells me. “And we can also find some more edible plants in this garden. Basil, a pepper tree, lemongrass, passionflower vine. These are all hidden through the larger, leafier plants, like the elephant ears. And they’re also a sanctuary for bees and insects.”

Detail of the fruits growing in some of the native plants of the first garden. Photo: Verónica Garibay

On the opposite side, a raised pond with Annona glabra, Pontederia sagittata, Phragmites australis, and water lilies sit quietly between two entrances. 

Detail of the tall plants growing in Casa 75’s pond. Photo: Verónica Garibay

As we walk through the second door, we reach a bare-stone living room with a skylight, under which a Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea pliabilis), a tree, and some small potted plants enjoy the indirect sunlight.

Living room space in Casa 75. The window to the right opens to the first garden. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Continuing through the long plot we reach the backyard, which features several different gardens. The first one was designed with water in mind.

Rodrigo and Andrés planned the first backyard garden with water in mind, creating different environments surrounding the pool. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“Since the pool is nearby, we thought of this space as a ​​water-based environment,” says Rodrigo. “We planted Bravaisias and Icacos, which are found in beach areas. And we’re featuring native plants like Anacahuita tree and Lantanas, whose flowers bring a subtle touch of color.”

Detail on the Lantana flowers, in the backyard. Rodrigo Escamilla on the background Photo: Verónica Garibay

On the opposite side of the pool, a small cacti garden blends nicely with the chukum walls.

Cacti garden, in the opposing end of the pool. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Past the water, and in front of one of the main bedrooms, a Maya walnut tree or ​​“Ramón” (Brosimum alicastrum) is decorated with epiphytic plants — plants that grow on another plant or object. 

A peek of the “Ramón” tree, hidden among the water-based garden. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“We’re also trying to create levels,” says Rodrigo, “so that our eyes make a journey when looking into the garden. The trees are our highest visuals, which end up filling the space and guiding us to the smaller plants.”

The jungle garden, just in front of the master bedroom. Photo: Verónica Garibay

As we walk towards the end of the lot, we reach the jungle garden.

Under another large tree, Xanthosomas, Aphelandras, Tillandsias, Philodendrons, and lion’s claws grow comfortably in the shaded, humid area.

The shaded area houses plants from all environments, surrounding a large Ciricote tree. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“This very ground produced many of the plants we’ve arranged in the process. The garden itself is constantly recycled and reused.”

The Ciricote tree naturally created a sort of cave near its roots, where leafier plants are now nestled in. Photo: Verónica Garibay

The rocks from the plot, which predate Rodrigo and Andrés’ intervention, also work to create an environment of their own.

“In Yucatán, cacti does not grow in the desert — because we don’t have a desert. But you can find them in the jungle, especially on surfaces like these,” says Rodrigo, pointing to the rocks. “We took advantage of what we found on the ground and added endemic species, like the Pilosocereus gaumeri cactus.”

Entrance to the master bedroom, opposing the large Ramón tree. Photo: Verónica Garibay

Finally, we reach the final corner of the home. In the master bedroom, a small indoor garden features two tall palm trees with epiphytes growing on its trunk. Rodrigo notes that many of the plants that have grown around it have arrived freely. 

A natural touch in the final window of the home, inside the master bedroom. Photo: Verónica Garibay

“We also work with the plants that grow naturally in a home. That’s one of the most exciting parts of the process, working with what already exists. We’re here to bring nature back into spaces, but it is wonderful to see when it comes back on its own.”

In Yucatán Magazine: Elenitza Garden — An Ode to Africa made out of native plants grows in Centro Mérida

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