Left At The Cow

I can easily direct us to our favorite garden center. A right turn here, a left turn there, another right, a number of traffic circles/rotaries/roundabouts (depending on where you’re from). A brief 7 kilometers/4 miles from home. Then turn left when you see the cow.


We picked up a rental car from Sergio after lunch and drove up to Vivero La Vega. Vivero translates to “nursery” or “garden center.” San Geraldo hadn’t yet figured that out on our first expedition (click here). That time, when we arrived at the third nursery, he said, “Look. This one’s also called ‘Vivero.’ It must be a chain.”  He’s smarter now and, since Vivero La Vega is our garden center of choice, there’s no more confusion. We turned left at the cow and pulled into a parking spot (click here to learn how we’ve improved since the first time).


One would have thought that having already purchased around 30 large plants at Vivero La Vega, and having transplanted 14 bougainvilleas we brought with us from Sevilla, we couldn’t possibly need anything else. Unfortunately, we’ve been learning the Spanish names of the pests that can destroy plants. Pulgones (aphids), Cochinillas (mealy bugs), Mosca blanca (white fly). They like the heat. They like the ocean breezes. Some things (six Bottle Brush trees — Callistemon), we’ve cut back and are hoping to nurse to health. Others (three oleanders), we decided to bid adios.


Cacti seemed like good replacements. We didn’t get carried away, although it was tempting. Maybe the fact that it was our hottest day so far had something to do with it. Nothing really to complain about — although San Geraldo did — 33C/91F. But it was hotter in the hills than by the sea. And the greenhouse was stifling. Even I was sweating.


It was too hot for San Geraldo to bring the plants and pots upstairs. So, after he came up empty handed and then sat in front of the AC, I shuttled. (Not a good idea to try and carry two cacti at one time. Damned pricks!) OK, to his credit, San Geraldo did (mostly) load the car. He did help empty the car. And he did return the car to Sergio. And he did cook a delicious dinner. He can stay… forever.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

19 thoughts on “Left At The Cow”

  1. Cacti sound like they just may be more insect- resistant than the others you have, Mitchell. What insect in its right mind would even entertain the idea of attacking these 'pricks'!!

  2. Cactushes. Splendid alien things. Have you any of that sort that burst once every ten years to spread seeds? That might be fun in the lounge…

  3. I'm wondering how the 'children' do around cacti. Our kids love to nibble plants, so, yeah, cacti?

    Pulling pricks out of cat mouths?

    Wait. What?

    1. Bob:
      The boys haven't been too bad about "nibbling" plants. They see them more as toys (i.e., "Let's pull off this leaf and run with it around the house. When that get's boring, we'll pull off another one). This morning, Moose was sniffing (carefully) one prickly plant. I'm hoping they catch on quickly without injury. Our three California cats never had a cactus problem (and they were constantly eating our other plants).

  4. Please put them somewhere where the pussies can't rub their faces against them – though doing a wee on them should be okay. (The cats, not you!).

    1. Raybeard:
      Dudo and Moose only use the litter box, so no "wee worries." Also, I just mentioned above, our California cats never got hurt by the cacti. We're hoping Dudo and Moose catch on as quickly. So far, so good!

    1. Stephen:
      San Geraldo "lets" (his word) me set the table. He "lets" me do the laundry. He "lets" me wash the dishes. He "lets" me do the heavy work on the hot days. The least I can do is "let" him stay.

  5. I love your cacti assortment. I have one cactus plant that I've managed to keep alive now for twenty years. None of my hen and chick succulents survived the winter indoors. Enjoy your tropical climate with your plants!

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I love cacti. We had an incredible collection of old and large ones in Connecticut that we gave away before moving to San Diego. Had more amazing ones in San Diego and after. It's really fun to be someplace where we can have them outside again. Would love to see a photo of your 20-year-old plant! My mother winters over her hens and chicks on her balcony (but then she leaves them there throughout). I love those and was tempted to get a pot of them.

  6. Beautiful cacti! I have discovered a prickly pear cactus that can actually overwinter here! Last winter I kept it in the garage, but I have a local friend who left hers in her garden, and it did very well. Tough little suckers!

    Your terrace looks lovely.

    1. Knatolee:
      Prickly pear are wonderful. I never had the patience to move things in for winter and back out for summer, so it's great to live in a climate where that's not necessary. The cacti are all happy out on the terrace. Not transplanted yet, so no photos. But one is blooming. Stunning.

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