One fine spring morning, the doorbell rang unexpectedly. A little aggravated I jumped up from my computer and suspiciously pulled the door open. Could have only been special delivery or preacher guys this time of day.
Francisco stood there smack in the middle of the walkway. “You need clean up,” he says. “Your trees too big.”
“No, if I trim them now, they will only grow faster.” It was April. “Come back in June.”
“Look,” he points to my debris-littered island. “We make it all nice.”
I am not worried yet about my “naturalized” landscape and send Francisco off to other gardens. Mine can wait. Yep, sometimes I need a little help from the pros, especially when I can’t put up with the loads of trimmings.
About two weeks later, in the middle of a household commotion, the bell rings again insistently. It was a really bad time. I thought we had a deal? Come back in June? Apparently, Francisco had jumped a month in his calendar.
Well, turns out, it wasn’t Francisco but Jacinto, his brother. “Your trees, trim?” Maybe. I remembered we had a major party coming up. OK, OK, do clean up! The price was negotiated as usual. Settled halfway. As long as the sum is right, my yard crew goes the extra mile.
My landscapers always show up instantly. At least one magic worker starts with a saw or rake usually within 5 minutes after I call them. Thus Francisco makes sure that I don’t change my mind or hire someone else for the project. He brought Jacinto plus two more helpers along to my “construction site.”
Fine by me. These men work hard, clean up tidy, and try to honor my requests for strange style cuts for my bushes (al mano, no maquina).
This job turned out bigger than expected, because the citrus tree had gone wild and proliferated extensive growth. Towards the end of their assignment, I asked Francisco as usual for horticultural advice in yard maintenance. Sometimes Francisco’s expertise turns out to be helpful, sometimes it’s not working at all (like killing Chinese Elm roots with gasoline), but every time he is eager to come up with some expert idea.
I have this mid-size, really lush apricot tree. In the last three year it had not had any fruit. Quite to the contrary, its little shabby apricot brother on the “desert” side of my backyard had sweet little fruits galore. Was my best tree still pouting since the last trim that I had given it myself? What could I do?
“I don’t understand, what did you say?”
“Ro-pa-mui-yer.” He said it more slowly.
“Where can I buy that?” What a strange name that was for a fertilizer.
Francisco laughed. “You don’t have to buy it, use your own.”
I was confused. “Like what?” I asked
“Calcetines,” (stockings), he said, grinning all over his face. “O pantaloncitos (underwear slips). O camisa (undershirt).”
Ropa de Mujer! He is saying, “women’s clothing.” Was he serious?
“And how do I use these with the tree?”
“Wrap it around, hang it in there. I don’t know.”
“For how long?”
“A day, a week, as long as you like.”
“Eres chistoso?” (Are you kidding me?)
“No es broma, es un truco.” (No, it is not a joke. It is a trick.)
“It will awaken the tree’s desire to produce.”
So I guess, the tree was male.
I tried it out. I hung a bra in that tree for a day. Let’s see about the results next year, Francisco.
INDEED, HERE IS MY APRICOT YEAR ONE YEAR LATER: