Fragrances and Flowers

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Even though the rainy season has not officially begun yet, my roses have decided to get a head start and they’ve  been happily blooming for the past few weeks. I’m certain that it’s in response to the fertilizer I applied over a month ago.  They were quick to show their gratitude for the nourishment, bless their fragrant little hearts and I didn’t have long to wait before I began to see buds popping up on almost every single one of them. I honestly felt guilty for having been forgetful with the fertilizer lately. A couple of weeks ago I went out to the garden, scissors in hand and began to snip off bloom after bloom, tossing them into a water filled plastic bucket to keep them fresh under the blazing sun until I could get them in the house and into vases. I guess I must have gotten carried away because I didn’t realize I had cut so many until I brought them inside and began to separate them by colors.

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The best thing of all was the heavenly fragrance! The whole house was perfumed with a myriad of different rose scents some light and lemony, others more heady and intense. I am always in awe of the smell of flowers and can’t help being dissapointed when I come across one that has no fragrance.

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I was tempted to leave them all lying on the counter in a lovely disorganized mess but I needed the countertops for other things and they desperately needed water to quench their perpetual thirst.

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These went into a crystal vase and onto the round dining room table in the smaller dining room.

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These dark violet roses with a delightful lemony scent were placed on top of the piano in a goblet with a matching violet stem.

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Others were set atop the kitchen island

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Pastel colored roses were put into a little cut crystal Mikasa vase and set on a countertop

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The fiery orange roses were placed in a globe shaped container with dark blue glass pebbles for contrast

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This is the nearest to black rose I have ever seen. They didn’t tell me the name of it when I bought it at a local nursery but I think it might be Black Baccara. The blooms are on the smallish side but the unusual shade more than makes up for that. They aren’t really black, as there is no such thing as a black rose. But when the buds are closed most of them really do start out quite black. As they open, the petals begin to turn a deep dark blood red at the base, but the tips always remain black. I put it next to a couple of yellow Queen Elizabeth roses for contrast in a matching yellow stemmed glitter goblet.

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But it’s not just the roses that have been blooming. Other residents of the garden are flaunting their colors too.  These bright blue hydrangeas bloom year round here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them without any flowers and they seem to thrive in the humid foggy weather up at the mountain house. Sometimes when I get tired of blue I let the flower heads dry on the plants and then dip dye them in different colors.

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Hollyhocks were blooming in my city garden. That’s very unusual because I don’t think hollyhocks normally like tropical weather . But they seem to be oblivious to the heat and they have grown almost as tall as the house. I planted these from seed that I ordered on Ebay. I have never grown hollyhocks down here in my city garden before where it’s so much warmer than our mountain house. I wondered if they’d make good cut flowers. I discovered that they aren’t as long lasting as other flowers but they look pretty in a vase for at least a couple of days.

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These are ruffly hollyhocks in a darker shade of pink than the other ones. They are just beggining to bloom.

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My potted bougainvillea hadn’t bloomed in over a year and I didn’t know why. I fertilized it, watered it, pruned it, scolded it and still no flowers. Then I read that bougainvilleas need quite a bit of sun in order to bloom, so I moved it over to a sunny spot in the courtyard and within a week the flowers began to appear.

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Then there is the frangipani. Oh the intoxicating fragrance of this beautiful flower! It’s just impossible to describe it in words. Sometimes I go out to the patio on warm evenings just to inhale the delicious perfume that  hangs and lingers heavily in the air.  It’s so much stronger at night. The flowers burst forth in clusters, like little ready made scented bouquets just waiting to be put in a vase. I always thought that frangipani (or plumeria as it’s also called) was a hawaiian flower because it’s what leis are made with. But I was surprised to discover that its not native to the South Pacific at all, but rather to Central America, where I live. No wonder it thrives in my garden.

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These giant Amaryllis have been piled inside this plastic bucket without any soil for over a year. I dug up about 50 bulbs last year and replanted most of them in a different location but I got lazy with these last few bulbs and forgot about them. Much to my surprise, they bloomed anyway despite the neglect.

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This waxy ivory water lily with a yellow center grew from a seed that I ordered from China. Actually four of them germinated and grew into adult plants but as is common with seed grown water lilies the new plant is never the same as the parent plants. Two of my seed grown lilies have bloomed but I was dissapointed with the first one because it produced an insignificant little flower about the size of a quarter, barely visible among the giant pads. However, the second plant produced large showy cream colored flowers that look lovely floating gracefully on the tranquil surface of the pond and the leaves themselves are beautiful, speckled and multi shaded. Since it is a new and yet un-named variety of water lily grown from seed, I was free to name it anything I wanted. So I named it Samia Gamal, like the famous Egyptian dancer of the 1940s who also seemed to float gracefully when she danced.

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And that, dear friends is what has been blooming in my neck of the woods lately.-

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Joining:

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Saturday Show Off at Rose Garden in Malevik

From my garden this week

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There were many things blooming in my garden this past week-end.  In spite of having neglected my roses for the last couple of months, Mother Nature has been forgiving and has given me an extraordinary gift of color and fragrance.  I was able to cut enough flowers for several bouquets to bring down to our city house and enjoy all week long.

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For the past couple of months I’ve been organizing the storage rooms in our store and haven’t had as much time to spend in the garden as I would have liked. I found weeds sneaking their way into the rose beds and algae threatening to take over the pond, embracing the water hyacinths and creeping up on the lily pads.

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Everything was thriving. The Lilies and the Amaryllis were in full bloom. The little fig tree was laden with small green figs that will very soon ripen into plump black giants which will be turned into a delicious fig compote to be eaten with fresh cheese.  Even the nameless pink rambling roses that cling to the fence all along the property line were almost exploding with bouquet-like clusters.

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Roses with regal names like Miss Amber, Mr. Lincoln, Princess De Monaco, Queen Elizabeth and Diana Princess of Wales all contributed fragrant blooms which were placed in pretty vases.

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And in pitchers high atop cabinets where curious kitties wouldn’t reach them or nibble them like the ones on the table

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Someone is very sleepy and probably not even thinking about nibbling flowers…..

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Joining the fun at these parties:

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show And Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Saturday Show Off at Rose Garden in Malevik

Abracadabra

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We’ve had a welcome respite from the rain these past couple of weeks. I love warm sunny days when I can go out in the garden at any hour without worrying about menacing thunder clouds lurking on the horizon. But it’s literally the calm before the storm and I know it won’t last. In just a few days time, the break will end and the daily downpours will resume once more.

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 This week some of my Abracadabra roses were in various stages of bloom.

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This is one my favorite roses. I’d been coveting one for the longest time but I was unable to find any nurseries that sold them. The only place I had ever seen Abracadabra for sale was in Australia. That was a tad too far for me. I regularly checked all the major rose vendors in the U.S. and Europe as well as on Ebay and even Google but I had no luck. Apparently not too many sellers carry Abracadabra because it’s a very unreliable rose as it doesn’t always produce the same color of blooms. Some plants produce the desired burgundy blooms splashed with bright yellow, however other plants can produce solid burgundy blooms with no trace of yellow. Or yellow blooms with no trace of burgundy, or half yellow and half burgundy. The combinations are endless.

Isn't this crazy?

Isn’t this crazy?

Additionally, the same plant can produce both solid and striped flowers. You never really know what it’s going to do.  I had pretty much given up on finding any for sale and had accepted the fact that this rose was about as elusive as El Dorado. Then one day I noticed a post on a Facebook plant group in my area where someone had posted a picture of an abracadabra rose. I snickered. Surely nobody could possibly be selling these in Costa Rica of all places. A few days later, there it was again. The same photo. This time I asked if they had them for sale and to my complete surprise, the seller responded that indeed he did. For just four dollars a plant.

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So after getting vague directions from the seller over the phone, I drove out with one of our store employees to a run down old farm that was pretty much out in the middle of the jungle and perched on the edge of a deep ravine. I have to say that I was more than a bit uneasy, but my yearning for that rose superseded all caution. I half expected to be greeted by someone who was a cross between Freddy, Jason and Hannibal Lechter but instead I was greeted by a very gentle and kind older gentleman with graying hair tied neatly in a pony tail, who’s hobby it was to putter in the garden and to experiment with rose grafting. He explained to me that a friend of his had given him some cuttings of Abracadabra some time ago which he had rooted. It was from those plants that he had begun grafting his own cuttings and selling the them (as well as other rose varieties) to earn a little extra income. I bought four baby plants which are now thriving in my garden.  Several other roses are blooming as well.

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Lady Banks Rose

Lady Banks Rose

Julio Iglesias

Julio Iglesias

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This is the blackest rose I've ever seen.  Before the buds open, it looks quite black. After they open, the rose is actually a very deep blackish maroon.

This is the closest to black rose I’ve ever seen. Before the buds open, it looks quite black. After they open, the rose is actually a very deep blackish maroon.

Purple Sage

Purple Sage

As I looked out over the central valley, I spied a faint rainbow, one of it’s ends sprouting from the the middle of a nearby field. Can you see it? It’s right in the center of the photograph. I could have sworn I saw the glimmer of gold among the bright green grass.

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Even though I always feel guilty cutting flowers to put in vases, I wanted to be able to enjoy them inside the house as well.

A tropical flower bouquet

A tropical flower bouquet

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A rose bouquet. The orange ones are called Miss Amber

A rose bouquet. The deep orange ones are called Miss Amber

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Joining:

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden in Malevik

Three Mini Chairs And A Patio

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I’ve had these little mini chairs in my garden since forever and over the years they’ve seen sun and rain as well as several different colors of paint. My neighbor Elmer, who is a carpenter made them for me to hang on the wall as plant holders but they’ve been used for many things, mostly as junk holders where I would place garden stuff that had to be kept out of the reach of children and of pets. When my youngest daughter was little, she used to make me take them down off the wall so she could play house with them.  A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to repaint them once again because they were looking very faded and weather worn and I also wanted to refresh my patio garden with new plants and a new coat of paint on the walls.

I can't remember the last time I painted them but obviously it had been years.

Before: I can’t remember the last time I painted them but obviously it had been years.

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I have to admit that I’ve neglected the little courtyard garden at our city house.  It’s such a small space after all and there isn’t really alot of room for plants unless they’re potted.  I usually spend more time in the much larger garden up at our mountain house but this rainy season I’ve decided to  pay a bit more attention to my little patio and thus spent a good part of the week weeding, fertilizing and planting new seeds. I mostly went with climbing plants because the space is small and the walls were bare. I planted Morning Glory seeds, Sweet Peas and Moon Flower seeds as well as three Clematis vines and even a few pumpkin seeds which will hopefully yield pumpkins by Halloween, unlike last year when I planted “fungus resistant” pumpkin seeds up at the mountain house only to have them ALL succumb to a woolly white fungus just as they were beginning to set fruit! Maybe they’ll do better in the city, it’s not as humid. Keeping my fingers crossed this time.

Suha and Giza think the pumpkin seedlings smell lovely.

Suha and Giza think the pumpkin seedlings smell lovely.

The three little chairs got a complete makeover which meant new paint and a bit of decoupage. I sealed them with a thick coat of polyurethane varnish so that they’d be sun and rain resistant….at least for a couple of years.

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Much better!

Much better!

I’ve had to put a wire mesh around and above my seedlings as well as more stones in some of the larger flower pots because my naughty kitty girls love to scratch the bare soil and use it as a litter box. I’ve seen them completely bypass their fresh clean litter boxes and head straight for the planters.  The mesh will keep them out until the plants grow in and there won’t be so much visible soil, then I can remove it.

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These solid violet colored morning glories grew from seeds dropped by striped morning glories.

These solid violet colored morning glories grew from seeds dropped by striped morning glories. These keep reseeding themselves and I find myself having to yank out new seedlings every so often, otherwise they’ll just take over the garden.

Some of the seeds did produce striped flowers that looked like the parents.

Some of the seeds did produce striped flowers that looked like the parents.

These are Grandpa Ott morning glories. I've never tried this variety before.  The color is so intense.

These are Grandpa Ott morning glories. I’ve never tried this variety before. The color is quite intense.

This is a lavender flowered Clematis that I got on Ebay. It's an unamed variety that the seller grew from seed.

This is a lavender flowered Clematis that I got on Ebay. It’s an unamed variety that produces huge blooms. Apparently the seller grew these from seed.

My orchids are beggining to bloom. I have several varieties. Most of them are heavily scented and they make the entire courtyard smell like vanilla.

My orchids are beginning to bloom. I have several varieties and they’re actually really easy to grow. Most of them are heavily scented and they make the entire courtyard smell like vanilla.

This is another heavily scented flower. The perfume is absolutely intoxicating.  It's Frangipani also known as Plumeria.  I always thought Plumeria was Hawaiian, but it's actually native to Central America.

This is another intensely fragrant flower. The perfume is absolutely intoxicating. It’s Frangipani also known as Plumeria. I always thought Plumeria was Hawaiian, but it’s actually native to Central America. It’s a tall tree like shrub and it’s one of the few larger plants that I have in my little garden.

Bougainvillea. I have this one growing in a large pot.

Bougainvillea. I have this one growing in a  pot right outside the patio door.

Here's a red Bromelia.  This one's native to Costa Rica. I've got several of these as they reproduce quite easily.

A red Bromelia. This one’s native to Costa Rica. I have several of these growing in pots. They reproduce quite easily.

Here's a potted Hydrangea. They grow everywhere here in Costa Rica, even on roadsides.  I've never seen them in any other color around here though. They're always varying shades of blue and even the ones that open white, eventually turn blue. I've never seen a pink hydrangea in Costa Rica. I wonder if it's the soil.

Here’s a potted Hydrangea. They grow abundantly in my area, even on roadsides.  They always seem to bloom in varying shades of  blue however, and even the ones that open white will eventually turn blue. I’ve never seen a pink hydrangea in Costa Rica. I wonder if it’s the soil.

Leyla is looking longingly at the flower bed. There's mesh all around it but it's mostly hidden between the greenery.

Leyla is looking longingly at the flower bed. There’s mesh all around it but it’s mostly hidden among the greenery.

Semsema likes to lay in the flower pots. I guess the damp soil and cool rocks are refreshing on a hot tropical afternoon.

Semsema loves to lay in the flower pots. I guess the damp soil and cool rocks are refreshing on a hot tropical afternoon.

This is a little shady spot where I keep the staghorn ferns and some of the orchids. Notice the mesh over the planter. That's so the kitties won't scratch the soil around until the seeds germinate.

This is a little shady spot where I keep the staghorn ferns and some of the orchids. Notice the mesh over the planter. That’s so the kitties won’t scratch the soil around until the seeds germinate.

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Most of the seeds that I planted a couple of weeks ago have sprouted and are growing nicely thanks to the abundant rain but there is still so much to do in the garden.  I’m thinking of buying some miniature roses ….or maybe even some hanging roses, more water lilies for the pond and perhaps some quick growing ivy to trail up the stark walls.

Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

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Joining Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden in Malevik

Random Saturday

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Rainy season is almost upon us again and the sky has become a swirl of puffy white clouds edged with ominous darker gray ones which bring with them a telltale drizzle and cool humid breezes.  April marks the transition into rainy season and although we still have dry sunny days, they will steadily become fewer and fewer throughout the month until they are gone completely. This year I’m kind of looking forward to the rain, I never thought I’d say that but my garden is suffering a bit  and things are starting to look dry and thirsty no matter how much they’re watered with the hose. I think that too much sun is about as bad as too much rain. Only a few of my rose bushes have blooms on them now and most of the water loving annuals including the zinnias and marigolds have dissapeared. It seems that this dry season has been uncharacteristically harsh. I was going to re-seed last week but I figured I might as well wait til the end of the month when the rains return and I won’t have to worry about watering them every day. Two things that seem to be thriving are the sweet alyssum and the hydrangeas, bless their dear hearts. Hydrangeas are practically indestructible around here and most houses have several bushes growing in their gardens.

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A few of my roses are blooming, though not as profusely as they usually do. This orange and yellow blend is almost always in bloom come rain or shine. I wish I knew what it was called but most nurseries around here don’t provide the real names of roses. I thought it might be Charisma, but it’s anyone’s guess.

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This pink edged white rose reminds me of strawberries and cream. It’s called Princess De Monaco.

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This russet colored rose is one of my favorites. The color is somewhere between terra cotta and cinnamon.  In case you’re wondering, the white residue on the rose leaves is a fungus spray, it’s the only way to keep blackspot and downy mildew somewhat under control in this humid climate.

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My fig tree is doing surprisingly well. I had this tree in a large clay pot for about 12 years where it dutifully produced 5 or 6 figs per year. It never grew more than 2 ft. tall.  When we bought the mountain house I brought it up here and took it out of it’s clay pot and put it in the ground. I am amazed at how much it’s grown in just a couple of years and how many figs it’s producing now. Fig compote (with cheese!) is one of my very favorite desserts.

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I just wish my grapevines were doing as well. They’ve been in the ground longer than the figs but they are really putting up a fight and refusing to grow. They’re just scraggly and tend to lose all their leaves during the wet season. I have no idea what’s wrong with them. I had hoped to be eating grapes by now but it seems that they take one step forward and two steps back. I’m guessing that they prefer a drier climate.

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The giant passion fruit is looking nice and green. I had to build a trellis support for it. No fruits in sight yet though.

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I don’t know what these black berries are but they look terribly poisonous. They’re hanging from the palm trees. I’ve already cut several of these palm trees down but they just keep coming back.

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Sweet alyssum are springing up all over the place and their scent is simply heavenly. It overpowers even the fragrance of the roses.

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Dwarf Goblin Blanket Flower in a pot.

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A major dissapointment in my garden has been the pond. I had envisioned bloom after bloom of fragrant tropical water lilies delicately rising above the water to display their colors amid the water hyacinths and the Louisiana Iris. Everything would have gone according to plan if it hadn’t been for those pesky koi fish. They are like eating machines and they devour everything in sight. Now my pond looks like nothing more than a muddy murky hole full of water and dying plants where monster fish lurk like sharks waiting for any tidbit to fall in so they can eat it. These fish actually climb up on the rocks and out of the water so they can get at the plants that are out of their reach! I find them frightening. I had been quite hesitant about buying koi because I’d heard that they were incompatible with plant life. I had intended to buy goldfish instead but hubby beat me to the punch and went ahead and bought the koi. Not just any koi but 15 inch long koi who had about a million babies in my pond within a week of their arrival.  I’ve decided that I’m going to call up the breeder who sold them to us and beg him to take them back. Free of charge. Heck, I’ll pay him to get those pests off my hands. Maybe my water lilies will recover.

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The Hibiscus bushes that line the property look quite happy. Hibiscus always does well here. I’d love to get some of those really exotic colored hybrid varieties that I’ve seen online.

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Another pink variety. This one is more ruffly.

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The lantana bushes are full of bright little flowers. These guys will need a good pruning before the rain starts or they’ll just take over the garden.

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Even though there weren’t very many long stemmed flowers in the garden today, nature always has a way of providing something to use in a bouquet, even if it’s the tiniest of flowers. I cut what I found growing…toadflax, catchfly, alyssum, and I was still able to enjoy the sweetest fragrance from these miniature bouquets.

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Joining The Rose Garden in Malevik for Saturday Show Off 

Sunny Saturday in the Garden

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Last Saturday I was up at the mountain house and I was more than happy to see that my roses are finally looking green and healthy once more. It has become a yearly battle. Most of the blackspot and downey mildew that always plagues them during the rainy season has dissapeared for the most part. Diligent spraying seems to have put these pesky diseases under control for the time being. Many of the bushes are heavy with blooms and all the rest are full of buds that are ready to burst open. I love warm sunny Costa Rican summers when the soft tropical breezes blow and gently rustle the leaves on the trees. Plants have a chance to recover from the downpours and they begin to show off their best colors.

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This little hydrangea sprung up here next to the fence posts. It has more flowers than leaves.

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My peach tree is full of tiny little peaches, which is surprising because I was sure that the rains had washed away all the blossoms a couple of months ago, but I guess some of them hung on tightly and survived.

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Here’s something that baffles me. I had a beautiful white climbing rose at our city house that was killed by leaf cutter ants who stripped it bare and sent it into a leafless shock that it was unable to survive. But not before I took several cuttings and rooted them. I planted all the cuttings along our property line at the mountain house thinking that the beautiful white roses would look lovely climbing over the fence. But much to my surprise, many of the cuttings bloomed pink! No idea how that happened. They are identical in shape and size to the white mother plant, but some of them bloom pink and some of them bloom white. How crazy is that. The one above is a white bloomer, but you can see that the rosebud is tinged pink. However, when they open up they are all white just like the mother plant.

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This pink rose is a cutting from the same white climbing rose, but it blooms pink. Not a trace of white.

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Climbing Blaze seems to have woken up from it’s slumber and is beggining to produce more blooms now. It still has a long way to go before it reaches the top of the trellis.

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The catnip is doing really well in the cool shady area behind the house. Every evening all the neighborhood cats come over and roll around in it. It’s a real kitty treat for sure.

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Fuchsias in a pot

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A tropical water lily in the fishpond. I’m not sure what this variety is called but it’s so colorful. It’s a night bloomer, which is why it’s only half open in this picture which was taken during the day.

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The pink climbing rose bushes were so heavy with blooms that I couldn’t resist cutting some and bringing them inside to enjoy.

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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Joining Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden in Malevik

 

 

Surprise Tomatoes

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A humble little tomato plant sprang up among my Amaryllis bulbs recently. I have no clue who planted it, I know I sure didn’t, so I was pleasantly surprised when I spied the little plant last month even though I was doubtful as to whether it would set fruit or not. But set fruit it did! I’ve counted 35 tomatoes so far and they’re still coming.

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My courtyard at our city house has red brick pavers set on the ground and there are only a few small patches of soil where I have plants that will tolerate alot of rainfall. The rest of the courtyard plants are in pots. A couple of months ago I had to enclose the area around my Amaryllis bulbs with garden mesh because my kitties insisted on using it as a litter box. The mesh effectively stopped them from going in there anymore, but I have the feeling that that’s why that lone tomato plant is now going overboard with the tomato production. It had lots of  kitty fertilizer. I also kind of have the feeling that that’s how the seed got in there in the first place. Ewwww.

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Today when I went to pick a few of the tomatoes that had ripened I discovered that a large green spider had woven a beautiful web right in front of the two largest, ripest ones. I didn’t have the heart to disturb him. He seemed so watchful, holding perfectly still just waiting for his lunch to fly by. So I left those two tomatoes for another day.

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I did get some nice plump ripe ones from a neighbouring branch, which  quickly became part of a delicious spaghetti sauce.

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Rose Pruning Day

This past week-end I pruned all of my roses which had become leggy and gangly. They’ve been affected by a couple of different funguses caused by the excessive October rains and they’d lost most of their foliage, leaving a garden full of bare stalks. The fungus was relentless and it seemed to be resisting all my efforts to erradicate it so I finally decided that drastic measures were necessary. I went ahead and pruned them down in the hopes that they will leaf out again and resume normal growth. We don’t have marked seasons here so roses can be pruned any time of year. Some of them were blooming and I gathered enough roses for a vase.

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I was happy to be able to enjoy these last few blooms as there won’t be anymore for at least a couple of months.

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Unfortunately I don’t know the names of all my roses, nurseries here rarely have them labelled by name. Most roses are just sold by color. This velvety rose is such a deep shade of burgundy that it actually looks black from a distance. No idea what it’s called, so I just call it….black rose.

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This one has russet colored edges and a yellow center.

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I moved the vase over to the coffee table to better enjoy the fragrance as I leafed through a stack of new books. I hit the jackpot at moving sale that same morning and found more than a dozen huge decorating books loaded with mouth watering pictures for about a dollar each. Score! I spent a quiet evening alone, reading in front of a cozy fire with a hot cup of coffee and the heavenly scent of roses as the wind howled outside. Sheer bliss.

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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

 

From my Garden

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Those weird Costa Rican tree Dahlias are starting to bloom again. Last week end when I went up to the mountain house I noticed several of the trees in full bloom. There was one in my yard down below the slope and many more in the empty neighboring lots so I decided to pick as many as I could reach. They make nice cut flowers and they’re long lasting.

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The Alpinia bushes that line our property on both sides were heavy with flowers as well. Alpinias make nice cut flowers too. They have long stems and can last up to a week in water. They’re also very colorful and showy.

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I went a bit scissor crazy and I ended up with enough flowers for two vases. Alas, no fragrance to either of these but what they lack in fragrance they make up for in color.

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It rained all week end and even though I was bored to death not being able to go outside, the plants in my garden seemed grateful for the refreshing shower. Off in the distance the alpinias stand out with their red torch-like blooms.

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The tree Dahlias with their pastel lavender flowers can be seen way at the bottom of the slope. They can grow very tall.

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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Pond In The Rainforest

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I’ve always had a fascination with fishponds and aquariums. Ever since I can remember, I’ve had fish. Sometimes just in a glass bowl and other times in large elaborate aquariums. In our city house we have a small 150 galon tile pond  that was built by a construction crew years ago, but it was only recently that I thought of putting in a larger pond up at the mountain house. It didn’t turn out to be as easy as I had anticipated though, mainly because in Costa Rica few people have ponds and there are no pond supply stores anywhere so I had to come up with some creative substitutes for standard pond supplies. I knew I didn’t want another concrete pond because we’d had a few annoying leaks in the other one particularly after the last couple of earthquakes. I wanted something that looked a bit more natural and would blend in with the surrounding landscape. That meant that I’d have to use a rubber liner, which of course nobody sells here. In addition to this, rubber liners are so heavy that it would have been impossible to import one for less than a a couple of thousand dollars. After asking around on some  local pond forums I decided on a type of plastic that is normally used for greenhouse roofing, which is what locals use for ponds as well. It’s UV resistant and quite thick, albeit very stiff and difficult to work with. On the plus side though, it only costs about 8 dollars per meter and it comes in 4, 6 or 8 meter widths, so I figured I could use it sideways and only buy about 4 meters lengthwise.The first step was to dig a hole. A big one. Fortunately our gardener helped me out with this project, bless his heart. He was my right hand man and I would never have been able to do it alone. He spent a couple of week-ends digging this huge hole. We left a ledge all around the edge to place plants on.

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Then I lined the hole with thick vinyl advertisement banners left over from our store. I turned them face down so the printing wouldn’t show. This was as a sort of extra protection under the liner to prevent random pebbles or anything else from puncturing the plastic liner.

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Then on top of the banners came the liner. Actually I ended up using several layers of UV resistant clear plastic liner which ultimately turned out to be a nightmare because it was clearly not designed for lining ponds and it was susceptible to punctures. Boy is that an understatement. After laying out the first liner and getting it to lay flat without a single crease or fold, I woke up the next morning ready to fill it with water only  to discover that deer had gotten inside and ripped holes in the liner with their hooves. So I bought a new liner and laid it on top of the first one. After filling the pond completely I was dismayed to discover that it was leaking water at the rate of about 5 inches per day. I had to empty it out and locate the problem area. Apparently the store had sold me a defective piece of plastic full of tiny holes. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that I went through six (count ’em, six) liners. I just kept placing them one on top of the other and I began to think it was jinxed. I guess the sixth one’s a charm because after that many liners it was finally water tight.

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Here’s our gardener wrestling with one of the several stiff plastic liners and trying to unfold it. I’m calling it a liner but I think it would be more appropriate to say “makeshift” liner.

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After cutting the excess liner around the entire perimeter and tucking the raw edge under into the soil, we dug a shallow trench all along one side of the pond to run the pvc tube through from the pump to the filter. A home made DIY filter, I might add. Heh.

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This is the filter, a 70 gallon plastic drum filled with volcanic rock, cut up sponge and thick quilt batting. Works pretty well. All the trenches were later filled in and the drum now has a cover. I also spray painted it green so it would blend in better among the shrubs.

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After I made sure everything was working properly and there were no further leaks, we began to build the waterfall. Most of the rocks were picked up at a local river. We made several trips and loaded up the van and lugged them back up to the pond. I wasn’t about to spend 200 dollars on a pond weir (plus shipping and customs tax!) so I made one from a 4 foot segment of  3″ diameter pvc pipe. I drilled several evenly spaced holes into this pipe and then inserted small segments of 1″ pvc pipe which would distribute the water evenly. It works quite well at a fraction of the cost.

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Then we had to hide the all tubing among the rocks

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The part that took the longest was the arranging of the rocks around the pond. It seemed that we only covered a couple of feet at a time and then it was off to the river again to haul more rocks. This took us a few weeks.

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Yes, that is indeed a fuchsia hula hoop you see in the middle of the pond. I swiped it from my daughter’s room and threw it in there to hold the water hyacinths in place. The wind kept blowing them all over the pond and they’d end up on top of the water lilies almost smothering them. So to keep them under control I confined them inside the hoop. Water hyacinths multiply so fast that I now have two hoops in the pond. I also put in a couple of large Koi fish just to keep the mosquito population in check but much to my surprise, within a week they’d had about 300 babies. So now the pond is teeming with fish.

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It was a lot of work for sure, especially because neither the gardener nor I had any sort of experience building a pond. We pretty much learned as we went. But now I can sit back and enjoy it. I have a nice view of it from my upstairs window as well as from my kitchen window and I find the soft trickle of the waterfall very soothing.

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Joining Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden In Malevik