I MET THE LITTLE VERMIN a short time after returning from USA through a newspaper add,for a landscape position in his two men operation. The meeting took place in the parking lot of a mall in Guaynabo City. I still remember the Ford 150, with 190,000 miles, falling in pieces, the lawnmower as old as bell bottoms, trimmers and blowers in similar shape.
He thought of himself as a big shot because he lived in a high income neighborhood when he started doing yards when he was fifteen, in Alto Apolo and Bucare. His clients were from that economic segment, middle high and high income.
He knew about the commercial aspect of billing high which seems to be the rule in Puerto Rico. But without landscape credentials or any technical training in terms of planting, diseases, correct and adequate pruning. Never bothered to keep the tools in good shape
or giving maintenance to the machines as necessary.
In terms of aesthetics, whatever that is for you, for yours truly it implies choosing plants, trees, climbers, ground covers, bushes that not only will enhance your property, but will require
minimum maintenance regarding pruning, irrigation, or the use of gasoline/oil operating
machines. Thus avoiding noise, water, air and soil pollution.
David Ramirez, a blond blue eyes fellow with certain similarity with toothy crooner Luis Miguel, was truly a scam artist, typical of some Puertorican landscape workers/enterprises.
One example shall suffice. One hot summer morning in Alto Apolo, while planting that repugnant over used, always infested with white flies, IXORAS, I noticed the named infestation and notified this blond/blue eyes peckerhead.
With a grimace from the criticism, his response was that it did not matter. To plant them anyway since later, when the customer noticed and tell him... He would come and spray, billing him 3 times for the cost of the gallon of insecticide. Another classical trick, almost
the norm here, it to place "top soil" without preparing the surface in which it will be placed.
If one does not get rid of the weeds putting top soil on the ground will help healthy
quickly growing weeds among your garden selection. Solution? Call the installer to weed and
spray herbicide without killing the ornamentals, more easy to say than done.
In brief. It is almost impossible to find landscape maintenance people to do the work correctly. There are no ethics, no government control, no agencies to enforce the few laws
regarding noise, pollution and many scams taking place in the local industry. Most laborers
are paid fifty bucks a day. No vacation, no holidays, no Social Security or Medicaid is paid
by these ripoff artists. David Ramirez for example would make us work for ten hours and
paying for eight, throwing a beer here and there to clean his snort polluted conscience.
Almost forgot. Too often Mr. Ramirez would leave the premises, whenever, while we were
planting or whatever one does, returning later all smiles and singing. While we were sweating and hot.. Looking for an answer to this odd behavior, I discovered observing carefully that that he had the courtesy of picking up one employee every morning far away from his house. The hick from Cupey, was his contact to buy cocaine in safe fashion. The problem was many trimmers died on the hands of the cocaine connection.
There you have it. The ethics picture with a beautiful tropical frame. Not imagined, but real.
The aesthetics? There is nothing. Period. But If I am mistaken, any one would have sent
a picture, or an address to prove me wrong. Believe me. Afters six years in Puerto Rico, with
the lost hopes many times expressed here, nothing would make me more happy than someone proving me wrong at least on the AESTHETICS issue.
Regarding the three pillars of critical frame: NO PALMS, TURF, HEDGES. Any one
defending these will have a difficult time. Palms are a hazard in an urban context, seeds, fronds, or fruit falling on pavement, cars, people. Even worse less than twenty five feet from buildings and walls/roofs.
Hedges, unless for privacy, noise reduction, preferably in a formal installation or to frame
when necessary, pruned thin on top. They create too much organic waste. Noise and too much
energy spent when using manual tools. Avoid hedges.
Same or worse with turf. Unless there is no choice for playing grounds. Ground covers, Meadows, prairies
can be developed along. Turf requires insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, noise and pollution.
Eliminate turf or use a pushing mower. If you use machines with gas and or electricity, irrigation, fine. Just do not think of yourself as an environmentalist. Or if you can think
theorize better, good luck.
Thanks to ALL visitors. Until then...