Garden Nurseries in Puerto Rico – Norte/Metro

First of all, hello and Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great Holiday season and are looking forward to a great year.

This post might not apply to a lot of you, (unless you’re a “plant person” and live on the North to Metro side of the island) but what the hell, I’m posting it anyway.  Maybe it will help someone. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it’s pretty damned difficult to find certain businesses here on the internet, en Español or not. After a couple of years of searching high and low for the perfect place to get my plant fix I finally narrowed it down to four nurseries. Granted most of these will have your typical ho-hum plants but they also carry a wide variety of unusual and stand outs on the regular. Basically, you’re getting the best of both worlds.

Byron Pikes Nursery in Arecibo – When we lived in Arecibo this was a convenient place to visit on weekends but even after moving 30 minutes away, I find myself visiting here first for the basics and then some. Byron Pikes simply has almost everything you could ever want or need in a nursery. Their inventory includes succulents, gorgeous cacti, orchids, (claro que si) carnivorous plants, landscape essentials, 1000’s of tropicals, trees, ground coverings, various potting mediums, pots galore and just about every stone under the sun. This place is always busy for good reason. Oh and the staff is great too of course. It gets hotter than hell here in the afternoon though, so bring water and a hat or just go first thing in the morning.

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Paisajes in Guaynabo – This is one of those nurseries that every gardener dreams of. Situated on the outskirts of Guaynabo this is a welcome sanctuary to linger and forget about the outside world. Some sections are so beautifully landscaped, it’s as if you were walking into a friends back yard. There are corners with aquatic plants, well established trees and tropicals. The staff are the most knowledgeable I have come across yet.  It’s one of those places you would miss if it were ever to disappear. I can’t really say that about anyone else here on the list. Just go.

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Gramaslindas in Dorado – This place is one of the fancier schmancier nurseries. They’ve been around for 50 years and the tentacles of their business reach far and wide throughout the island. From bags of soil at major retailers to landscaping all over the island and everything in between. Their main nursery is just a couple blocks down from the Doramar Plaza, you know, that place you get your Krispy Kreme doughnuts on. Down the road a ways from there is their sister nursery geared towards bulk purchases, plenty of graveled roadway to back up that truck and haul off a plethora of plants. Did I mention they make their own compost as well? As far as compost goes for Puerto Rico it’s above average. They sell topsoil and mulch in bulk as well.

What’s great about Gramas Lindas is that for the most part you are in a shaded sanctuary of sorts. There’s a place to buy cold drinks/snacks inside and plenty of beautiful rocking chairs for the “non-plant” people to sit and bask in the glow of their smart phones. The other notable aspect of Gramas Lindas is their actual storefront consists of a row of buildings replicating living conditions of a traditional historical Puerto Rican farm. Oh and I think there is a mascot walking around somewhere who wouldn’t mind keeping you company.

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Jardin Selecto (Garden & Bonsai store) in San Juan – Since I have a thing for Bonsai trees, I had to list this nursery. The nursery itself has a plenitude of other plants and the owners go out of their way to change up their displays on a regular basis. You don’t see much of that here, it’s nice to go in once in awhile to see what’s new and their latest creative endeavor. Of course, their Bonsai section is ridiculous, in a great way. If nothing else, it’s worth a visit on this merit alone. Sorry, somehow I lost my photos of the Bonsais so this cacti will have to do.

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Let me know in the comments if you have any favorite nurseries or resources you would like to share, I would love to hear about it!

👽 Looking to the Sky in Lajas

Lajas is renowned for their Bioluminescent Bay, Playa Rosada and purported extra-terrestrial sightings. The latter we didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing. Dammit.

Again, like so many places here, it was like stepping into another world. As we stopped along the way we approached many a gate with cattle and cow behind them. They all stopped and stared at us as if to say “Wth do you want?” I wanted to throw a big bouncy ball among them but Steve muttered something about lawsuits so I reluctantly put it out of my mind.

Later, we did see a white blimp hovering along our journey, camouflaging itself against the pale-blue cloudy sky. Would have rather seen an alien though, just sayin.

The Meseta Coastal Trail, Guanica Dry Forest

We needed a change in scenery so we headed to the Southwest corner of the island to experience the infamous Guanica Dry Forest.

Established as a reserve in 1919, the area encompasses nearly 10,000 acres. All species of animal and plant life are staunchly protected, including 48 endangered species and 16 endemic.

As usual our plans got side tracked and we ended up arriving two hours later than we hoped, at 11am. Those of you familiar with the area know this isn’t the ideal time to visit, especially for a really pale, sun-phobic person.

Right off the bat we saw 100’s of small butter-yellow butterflies going nuts over the tree near the trail entrance, not two moments later a black snake crossed our path.

The trail is easy to follow but as you get further down, the shade opportunities quickly dwindle. We almost ventured off the trail but thought that would be pretty dumb knowing how inexperienced we were and it was now high noon. It’s a good thing we didn’t, I checked out the area we would have been in via google terrain and it lead to an area with zero outlets.

In total we were on the trail for two hours so I guestimate we completed half of the trail. If we had gone earlier we could have finished the entire length, the sun is just that relentless this time of day. As much water as you think you need you can at least double it.

Needless to say we were rewarded with spectacular views and a very interesting terrain to traverse. Next time we will devote an entire day to the reserve when we have more time, we barely scratched the surface this outing.

Baker Creek Free Shipping offer for PR residents

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is offering free shipping for 6 months if you register tonight. Their seeds have an exceptionally high germination rate and customer service is a 10. Best of all, they ship to PUERTO RICO, even the live plants will ship free if you register in time.

If for some reason you miss out on this deal, it’s still well worth a try since shipping is very economical compared to other vendors.

I am not affiliated with the company, just a huge fan. :)

Yellow Flamboyan, Hatillo

Gorgeous Yellow Flamboyan near the Santuario Schoenstatt in Hatillo

Delicias Falls in Ciales

On our way back from the Jayuya Coffee Festival we decided to check out Las Delicias Falls in Ciales. It was a little scary going up in one spot, (super slippery) but after that it was a breeze and took less than a few minutes. This was one of those rare days where we were essentially alone in this idyllic setting.  If it weren’t for our growling stomachs we could have stayed there all day. Take a look for yourself..

Farm in Caño Tiburones

This trip found us meandering through the back roads of Arecibo looking for another access point to Caño Tiburones. After passing a few homes in what seemed like the middle of nowhere we decided to ask for help.

We spotted a lady in front of a farm house and explained our quest. Sure enough she had an access point right on her property and kindly let us use her private trail to get there. Some days we are so incredibly lucky to find such accommodating people.

We had a blast looking at all the farm animals including many few week-old calves and goats. Lots of dogs, horses, chickens, pigs and cats as well. As per usual, we didn’t see many birds, in fact, we only saw one egret and another that flew away too quickly to id. Oh well, it all evens out, right?

Caño Tiburones

We wanted to access the wetlands in Caño Tiburones, somehow I had it in my mind (oh how we lie to ourselves!) I could see a few flamingos that visit the area occasionally. We ended up seeing one egret, two stray dogs and one very fast mongoose. I have probably seen more egrets in a home depot parking lot.

It was still beautiful and at least we figured out how to access the area via car and a short walk. It was strange to see the old roads previously driven on covered in a few feet of water, like an old ghost town. Woooooo….

Montones Beach, Isabela

One of my favorite beaches is Montones in Isabela. Lots of surfer-watching on one end and many tide-pools for languishing in on the other. The entire surrounding area and beach is pristinely clean. Lots of seashells, some sea glass and coral come up on the shore, just be careful what you take home, some of it is still living.