Have you ever wondered how our kiosko/gazebo/plaza gardens in Ajijic stay blooming and beautiful throughout the year? I have, knowing how little resources the pueblo of Ajijic has to go around.
The answer is Steve Knoll, The Silent Gardener.
Steve has been in the Ribera area for 7 years now. He has been a groundskeeper, florist,
B & B farmer and now Plaza Beautifier.
no working irrigation and without a budget for any new plant material.
"I do it for the love of horticulture and figure what better way to
put a small smile on the faces of many."
I first met Steve Knoll at a garden group meeting in May 2019. Steve expressed an interest in seeing our Vivero project in San Juan Tecomatlan and came out to Vivero La Esperanza.
Steve offered his truck and help and we immediately sent him, with the local youth Brigade to collect horse manure for our gardens. He did not hesitate and soon was off to complete the chore.
Pablo, the owner of the Jardín Plaza restaurant is a friend and my landlord, and supporter of my plaza beautification. He gives me free reign and pays for my plant and pot supplies that I use at the Jardín Plaza restaurant. About a year and a half ago I decided on my own to work at beautifying the plaza/gazebo area. There were 8 large pots already in place around the gazebo, with an assortment of very sad, pathetic plants. The entire plaza upon close inspection, from a horticultural perspective, was a nightmare. I checked into it a little bit, seems the garden club poured money and effort into the entire plaza in 2014. But as with so many horticultural programs, it’s all about budgeting and managing for maintenance, upkeep and a continual inflow of new plant material.
Since I’ve been around none of these exist.
The first year I maintained only the eight 30” pots, with about half containing permanent greenery and 1/2 more colorful material that I rotate as it has a short lifespan in a public/high traffic pedestrian area. I’ve grown accustomed to always discovering new varieties that have the ability to. “walk away”. I expanded last year to decorating the gazebo itself for Christmas with 6000 lights, poinsettias, and other decorations. The last few months I've been adding an additional 8 pots and am beginning to conquer the large, sad, garden zones around the gazebo.
I’ve had a few donors, unfortunately the largest contributor cannot continue to contribute $. And over time I have received a few donations from others. I’ve personally spent $25,000 pesos on this endeavor. To a degree I don’t mind because of the joy it brings to the townspeople, but to continue my plans for the larger garden areas I need support in funds. Since it benefits the businesses to have a beautiful plaza also, I would think their support would be evident, but other than the Jardín Plaza restaurant and the Dollar Store no one has offered.
I do often tip the existing gardeners for their extra help when I do pruning and a clean up. Also, I use a few of the street kids to assist me and buy them lunch and pay them an adult wage, again out of my pocket. And occasionally I get a few contributions from onlookers. I’ve been ambitious.
These last few months I’ve put in 100’s of new plants; hibiscus, asst sage, allium, ferns, hydrangea, and am trying to use lower maintenance, drought tolerant plants. But as any gardener here in the semi tropical/ temperate/ dry 6 months/ inconsistent rainy 6 month/ bugs/ disease prone/ lack of quality soil environment can tell you, it’s a lot of maintenance, watering, fertilizing (a very expensive commodity down here as the costs of soil amendments are high). Peat moss is $30 u.s per bale, Vermiculite and Miracle Grow another $60 u.s. which is also necessary for any attempt
at container growing.
at container growing.
I drive monthly from Chapala to Joco and buy what looks great at a reasonable price. I don’t plan as I have no tolerance for seeking out any specific plants. My wallet is my guide!!! I have a natural ability to design my gardens on the spot with the knowledge in my head and the plants at my feet.
Steve needs our support.
Won't you consider providing resources to his beautification cause?
If so, please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
or you can send an email to Fco. at email@example.com
We all thank you for your generous contributions.
Fco. y Steve