School Garden Adventures: From Mexico to Chicago: Healing Gardens: "Plants are the reason I'm alive"

School Garden Adventures: From Mexico to Chicago: Healing Gardens:

School Garden Adventures: From Mexico to Chicago: Healing Gardens: "Plants are the reason I'm alive"

After a bit of searching around the main dock of Holbox, we located Dona Viki. "I'm not a biologist" Viki told us, "but I can tell you a lot about my plants." This may have been the understatement of the week. The moment you enter Viki's backyard, her passion for and knowledge of plants is apparent. Countless species of plants decorate every ledge surrounding the house and every open space in the yard.

A small selection of the hundreds of potted medicinal plants in Viki's yard

Viki generously offers Jenny a hosta,
planted in a large conch shell

After we've introduced ourselves, Viki begins to whirlwind tour, an encyclopedia of plant knowledge, sprinkled with many opportunities for plant samples, "taste this, smell that," she insists. A few minutes into our visit, she tells us her reason for all of this, "I have terminal cancer, it's spread throughout my body," she explains, pulling down her bathing suit to reveal a scar from a surgery. "Plants give you life. They are the reason I'm alive." Viki repeats this message several more times throughout the evening in different ways. As we walk through the backyard, it seems impossible to avoid stepping on little toads, who scatter everywhere with each step. I've never seen so many toads in one place! Viki explains, "They're good for my garden, eating the bugs. I bring them all over so they can help with my garden."

Viki names and tells Jenny the uses of nearly every plant in her garden.

Exotic animals
Compared to orange tigers without the white gene, white tigers tend to be larger both at birth and at their maximum adult size. There is an even rarer mutation (of which there are less than 100 specimens, all in captivity), known as golden tiger.

The Cosmic Explosion plant. Its the name comes from the flower, not in bloom here. Bummer!

A picture that sums up Viki's yard-chaotic, but a botanical wonder

Viki leads us inside her home, which is fixing up, little by little. An extravagant collection of tropical reef decorations and fish cut-outs contrasting with the dirt floor and piles of unwashed dishes. "It needs a lot of work" Viki acknowledges, "but I'm working on my room in the back." And like that, we are off.

Viki and Jenny walking towards Sandra's. In foreground, hosta in
conch shell, and small fruit picked and chewed along the way