Black Rose

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I know, I know. There is no such thing as a black rose. I know I’ve talked about my black roses before and have even showed you pictures, but I thought I’d post about them again because a few days ago as I was removing some bouquets of faded roses from their vases, I discovered that some of those “black” roses had turned an amazing and velvety pitch black as they dried.

For quite some time I didn’t know what the name of this rose was, but I suspected that it was Black Baccara. The nursery where I purchased it confirmed my suspicion recently  and they told me that it was indeed Black Baccara. This rose is actually considered to be a very deep dark red but the color on the petals is uneven throughout, thus much of it does look black. On the same plant some of the blooms are darker and others are redder. Here it is as a bud.

As you can see, the base of the petals is reddish, but above the base and to the tips, it is indeed black.

As you can see, the base of the petals is reddish, but above the base and to the tips, it is indeed black.

I’ve read that Black Baccara is a very unpredictable rose which sometimes blooms red and rarely blooms black. Apparently it depends on the soil and the climate. I guess I must have favorable conditions here because it does get quite black and you actually have to look very closely to see the tinges of red. Here it is in a vase. This photo is completely unretouched and it is the true color. Even up close this particular bloom was for the most part, quite black. Others from the same bush are sometimes less black and more maroon.

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Last week I was about to throw out some faded roses that I had placed in a couple of vases, but I loved the way the colors had intensified as they dried, particularly the black ones so I decided to save them. I really like the look of dried roses.

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I tied them in a bunch and hung them with a ribbon from a ceiling lamp to finish drying. The sweet fragrance still lingers and wafts of delicately scented perfume reach my nose every time I walk past the hanging bouquets. I am reminded of an old Egyptian proverb that says, “Even if the flower has faded, it still retains it’s beautiful fragrance.” The proverb of course is a poetic reference to women who have matured.

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I am always fascinated by the deep russet, gold and burgundy tones that aging roses aquire. I think I like dried bouquets almost as much as fresh ones and I am thinking that perhaps I can collect enough black roses for a gothic flower arrangement.

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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

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

 

 

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

 

Under the rainbow

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This colorful rainbow appeared above my garden on several occasions over the past week. At times it was accompanied by an identical twin that hovered delicately above it. Other times it appeared alone, it’s colors emblazoned across the sky in a huge and brilliant arc like a floating gateway to the valley below. It’s not unusual to see rainbows and double rainbows in Costa Rica. Oftentimes it rains while the sun is shining, causing the raindrops to refract the sunlight and creating distinct stripes of  intense color. Surely a rainbow this beautiful must have a huge pot of gold at it’s end, hidden there by some sprite or garden fairy. Maybe even two pots of gold, one at either end.

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This was the morning view from an upstairs window. Down below my half-finished fish pond project.

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My grandson and his older sister were anxious to start searching for that pot of fairy gold that was likely hidden underneath the flowers, after all both ends of the rainbow were firmly planted in my garden.

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But alas, no matter how much they searched and dug and poked with their fingers, the only thing they found were earthworms. That’s fine with me though. Earthworms are indeed  a treasure in any flower garden.

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

Miss Amber and friends after the rain

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This morning I woke up to the sound of howling wind and the pattering of a persistent rain on the zinc roof. We’ve been having some kind of weird weather phenomenon for the past couple of days and it’s been uncharacteristically cold and rainy for this time of year.  It seldom rains in the early mornings even during the rainy season. They call it “canicula” here in Costa Rica. It’s a short period during July when the weather goes crazy and unpredictable, usually warm and dry but sometimes cold and wet.  Known as Dog Days in english, it has something or other to do with Sirius and the Canis Major constellation.  I didn’t want to get out of bed and neither did my two kitties who were snuggled up on top of the covers sleeping through the ruckus but I managed to walk over to the window and open the curtain only to confirm that the weather was indeed miserable.  Mercifully the rain let up at about noon but a chilly wind continued to blow throughout the day.  A couple of my roses had some of their branches broken off  but for the most part they looked all right. Downright happy in fact, with their blooms covered in raindrops. They seem to enjoy nippy weather more than I do.  Miss Amber, a bright coral rose had several open blooms today and climbing Joseph’s Coat was threatening to take over the trellis that it’s supposed to share with Blaze.

This is the view that greeted me as I looked out the window. Wet and foggy.

This is the view that greeted me as I looked out the window. Wet and windy.

Miss Amber is looking fresh and crisp covered in glittering drops of rain. She isn't amber colored at all, she's a bright coral orange.

Miss Amber was the queen of the garden today. She was looking fresh and crisp covered in glittering drops of rain. She isn’t amber colored at all, she’s a bright coral orange.

Tropicana

Tropicana

I don't know the name of this one

I don’t know the name of this one but it sure is a pretty shade of magenta when it opens up completely

Lady Banks. A thornless and vigorous climber. I grew this one from a cutting.

Lady Banks. A thornless and vigorous climber. I grew this one from a cutting. She’s already grown as tall as the house in only three or four years.

Heirloom

Heirloom

The wind and rain blew one of these blooms right off. The garden was full of scattered petals.

The wind and rain blew one of these blooms right off. The garden was littered with  scattered petals from several roses.

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That's climbing Joseph's Coat on the green trellis.

That’s climbing Joseph’s Coat on the green trellis.

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This Heliconia seems to be one of the few plants in my garden that is everything-tolerant. It practically takes care of itself. It's not my favorite plant but it's foolproof. You can't beat that.

This Heliconia seems to be one of the few plants in my garden that is everything-tolerant. It practically takes care of itself. It’s not my favorite plant but it’s foolproof. You can’t beat that.

Another plant that thrives here with little care, purple Salvia or sage, a favorite of hummingbirds.

Another plant that thrives here with little care, purple Salvia or sage, a favorite of hummingbirds.

I'm not sure what this rose is called. It's a very fragrant white climber that blooms profusely in clusters. Each cluster is almost a complete bouquet.

I’m not sure what this rose is called. It’s a very fragrant white climber that blooms profusely in clusters. Each cluster is almost a complete bouquet.

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

I always feel a little bit guilty when I cut flowers for bouquets.  They look so pretty on the plants, but today there were so many that I'm sure the plants won't miss them. The pink ones at the far end are hibiscus. They aren't the best cut flowers as their stems are so short but that bubble-gum pink shade  is just so pretty in a bowl.

I always feel a little bit guilty when I cut flowers for bouquets. They look so pretty on the plants, but today there were so many that I’m sure the plants won’t miss them. The pink ones at the far end are hibiscus. They aren’t the best cut flowers as their stems are so short but that bubble-gum pink shade is just so pretty in a bowl.

 

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Joining Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home

Feathered Nest Friday at French Country Cottage

Saturday Show Off at The Rose Garden in Malevik

Rainy Season Is Here Again

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It’s that time of year again. Rainy  season has officially begun in Costa Rica. Plants have started to perk up as the daily afternoon showers drench and refresh the inhabitants of the garden and quench the thirst of flowers and fruit trees alike. Everything comes alive and I’m reminded of that classic film The Secret Garden, the part when all the beautiful flowers begin to open up and bloom. The soil always has a rich damp smell after the rain and the fragrance of the  different kinds of flowers is almost intoxicating.

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