New Plant Bonanza Plus Yet More Tile

With just a month or so of the rainy season remaining, Cynthia and I decided that we should get some more plants in the ground so that they can get a good start before everything goes dry.

So Friday morning, after I got Hanibal and Bolivar started on another tile floor, Cyn and I went to a nursery in town. There are other places that we like to buy plants too, but for quality and sheer volume, Sr. Chico at Plantas del Valle was our choice this time.

It sure is nice to have enough Spanish under our belts to be able to easily describe what we were looking for — we talked about sun vs. shade, drought tolerance, colors, the heights of the plants, and how many of each. A worker took us into the yard to confirm our choices. Cynthia and her new hip navigated the muddy paths really well.

The nursery really is quite large. Here are some photos:


We purchased 80 of these. The women are removing any dead leaves for us.


Here the workers are choosing and cleaning 16 nice ferns.


An hour later their truck was loaded for delivery.


Here is our bounty, unloaded in our driveway turnaround:


Eighty of the variegated plants in the foreground, sixteen ferns, three tall red-trunked palms, six grasses, and five mother-in-law tongues.

Armando arrived Saturday, saw the plants, and said, “I guess I know what I am going to be doing today!” He made great progress, not finishing only because a pounding rain that arrived at noon:


Armando is planting the new variegated plants between the two rows of green plants. In time, they will all fill out and provide a colorful border along the garden path.


View from the window at the top of the stairs to the loft and roof deck.


Two of the three new red-trunked palms are placed at the end of the container. They still need to be moved around to find the right spot.


The new grasses will hide the concertina wire.

The north side of container #4 is a good place for the sixteen new ferns:


In tile news, in the loft, I cut the edge tiles, ready for Hanibal to mud them into place:P1010885-001

Here is the loft, now all done except for the grout on half the floor:



I am in the process of installing a sink at the far end of the loft, by the door to the roof deck.

This is the landing at the top of the stairs, with the roof deck through the door:


Earlier I mentioned that I got Hanibal and Bolivar started on the next floor — and it is a big one! It seems surreal that we are FINALLY getting to this floor — the entry, dining room, and living room. We’ll be a week or two on this monster:


When Cyn and I returned with the plants, Hanibal and Bolivar had laid out a T-shape of tiles, using only the tiles and a framing square to determine a right angle. Personally, I wouldn’t have done it this way because if you are even a little bit out of square, the effect of compounding errors is greatly magnified when you get to the other end of the line of tiles. I find it better to lay row after row.

I didn’t want to second guess Hanibal, but the mortar was still wet, the tiles not yet set firmly in place. So I risked insulting him and interjected myself into the process to make sure the layout was square.

The best way to determine square in a large area is to use a 3-4-5 right-angle triangle. Units of measure for the 3-4-5 can be inches, feet, meters, etc. I used feet.

To use the triangle, go three-feet in one direction, then four-feet in the other direction, then the hypotenuse must be five-feet.

For an even larger area, you can multiply each number by two or three or more to be even more accurate. In this case, I multiplied each number by three. So my measurements looked like this on the floor:  P1010882-001

I’m glad I checked because the layout was about three-eights of an inch out of square in nine-feet. Using a rubber mallet, we tapped the tiles to their new location where they met up with the correct points of reference. Now we won’t have to trim tiles to get them to fit or, conversely, have overly-wide grout lines; it could have been ugly.

One day after the guys left, I installed an LED strip of lights under the long bench in the living room. The lights come on a spool; you just unroll them, peel back the paper to expose the sticky-tape, stick ’em up, plug ’em in, and you are done. These lights came with a dimmer that I mounted under the bench. Here is a night-time photo:


In the pretty picture department, I took this photo at the nursery:


And lastly, here is lunch that Cyn made for me one day:


Egg salad, real chemical-free salami, peas, tomato, and grated carrot. Thanks Cyn.

We’ll be working on the big floor for a while. See you next time. Thanks for stopping by.

11 thoughts on “New Plant Bonanza Plus Yet More Tile

  1. Awesome reward (lunch) for such a good math job!
    Whoever said “what do I need to know this for?” should read how your math saved you from so much work.

    • Hi Alex,

      I think I was fortunate in that I attended a vocational high school. We had one week of shop (in my case, carpentry) then one week of classes. Many of the classes were based on one’s chosen trade. So while I was in school, I could easily see how geometry and drafting, for example, would benefit me. It made learning fun and interesting. Three-four-five has been a go to for me for many years and has served me well. Thanks for your comment. Fred

  2. I am a lover of the garden… we have a parcela of 3,500 sq meters, and this is where I spend my weekends… working on various projects. and yours looks great… love the new plants!

    The problem we have in Santiago is that there is NO rain in the summer… so everything must have an artificial water supply… or plant cactus! 🙂

    In regards to be happy to be able to speak enough Spanish to explain to the “vivero” what you wanted… I remember the first time I was able to comfortably go to the local home center and do the same… of what a relief it was (is) (not too much unlike Alka-Seltzer!) 😉


  3. hmm 5.08 am , time I went to bed , love the work , coming along nicely , light under the bench looks great , looking towards the day you can say finished and you are able able to sit back and relax for an hour or two . Till you decide on yet another project. regards Mike

  4. Hello Fred,
    I have been following your blog for some time with lots of interest. I love your sense of humour and your good photos. My husband Jim and I are coming back to Panama for the 3rd time in January for 3 months to really scope it out and see if this is where we want to live. We are from BC in Canada and we were looking at homes in Trinty Hills Valley. We think that living in Panama for 3 months will give us a better chance to really look around and absorb some of the local flavor.
    Are you familiar with the area around Lidice and Capria at all?
    Hope your fine dog keeps up his good he a rescue? Glad to hear your wife is doing well with her new hip:)
    All the best,

    • Hello Dagmar, nice to meet you.

      I think that you are absolutely doing the right thing by wanting to spend some months with feet on the ground here. Any new culture has surprises that can make or break a decision to move.

      I’m sorry, but I know nothing of where you are looking to live. But on my blog is a link to Along The Gringo Trail. You may want to pose your question to Clyde and Terry as they are in Chame, much closer to your chosen area. They may know someone even closer.

      Yes, Jabo is a rescue. It’s his seventh birthday this month. We got him at just three-weeks old, fit in the palm of our hand. Now we are his pack and he takes his job of watchman (Panamanians have adopted the English word, watchman, but pronounce it watch-e-man.) And Cynthia is better every day.

      I wish you good luck with your search, and bring your sense of humor and patience with you.

      Regards, Fred

      • Thanks Fred,
        I totally agree with your comment about bring a sense of humour and patience with us. I am always surprised to meet travellers who want everything to be the same as where you left home from.

        I do follow Along the Gringo Trail, thanks for the advice.
        We will be back exploring around Boquete as well and loved the drive to Volcan, such a diverse and beautiful country.

        We look forward to continue following your blog and seeing the photos of how your beautiful home and surrounding area are showcased.
        All the best,

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