About The Lake Atitlan Botanical Garden Tour
It was a long, slow growth into the connection we have today. We bought our land in 1987, and began construction in 1988. It was a very steep location, averaging about a 30% grade.
We measured about 50 steps down from the road to escape any noise and had our crew begin digging into the hillside to create a spot for our house.
As they dug, we soon realized that we needed to have terraces made to control the soil, which had begun sliding all of the way into the lake 100 yards below when thrown over the edge.
Lake Atitlan Botanical Garden Tour.
The terracing had seemed like it would be a bigger job than the house, but our guy suggested that we make the terraces of “dry walls”, meaning stacked stone with no cement. He took me to his father’s house, showing a dry wall the house had been built upon 27 years before. Lake Atitlan Historic Garden Tour.
“Start with large stones at the bottom and use smaller ones on top”, he explained. When he and his cousin made a 3′ high wall about 50′ long that cost us $60, we asked him if he could find some other workers. He brought more family, ending up with 5 men.
They spent a year building steps down and terrace walls. We spent more time with them than we did the builders of the house, who had plans to work by. We found that plans in the garden often changed as the boys came to a large rock or such.
Lake Atitlan Historic Garden Tour
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We hired a gardener and his cousin from a nearby village to begin that job. A couple of months before he began work at the site, we bought 1,000 small plastic plant bags for him to fill with starts, and paid him 1/2 a wage for 2 months.
During that time he occasionally went around to the many chalets that exist along the lake in his home town and spoke to the Guardians, who lived in those spots, working as both security and gardeners.
Our guy would take cuttings from the gardens friends of his worked in, carry them to his home where he had those 1000 bags full of soil, and planted them there for his wife to take care of.
After a couple of months he and his cousin started working on our site. Every day they would each carry 10 or so plants in small racks on their backs, from the 600 or so that had lived from the cuttings.
Those 600 plants did very little to fill the terraces that were being produced. Thus, the next time Sylvia and I drove to the coast to order wood for the house, we filled the back of our van with plants that were grown down there at wholesale nurseries.
We stacked the plants clear to the top of the back of our van like cord-wood, at a whopping cost of 50 cents each. Again and again, they didn’t begin to fill the terraces.
Eventually, we started stopping at nurseries when we traveled to Guatemala City once a week to buy materials for the house.
We soon found the top ones, which had very knowledgeable gardeners who followed us along with large carts to put our plants in.