Costa Rican Garden

GatewayThe house is set pretty much slap bang in the middle of its plot. You enter the plot between two stone pillars with a metal arch over the top. ML says that the entrance could be wider as it is a sharp turn from the single car width road and he has to come in on an angle. This wouldn’t be so bad with a small car but he has a huge 4 x 4 which has to breath in each time it goes through. The whole garden is covered with white crushed limestone which make a lovely crunchy sound as you drive over it.

Hibiscus & Allamanda FlowersIf you stand between the stone pillars and look towards the house you see a large expanse of white stone, on the left hand side the boundary runs straight and is edged with a red Hibiscus and yellow Allamanda hedge the first half of the hedge to the start of the house is newly planted so very sparse but then it meets up with the fully established area which is about 2 m (7 ft). It is much-loved by butterflies, hummingbirds and I have spotted a fairly big lizard at the top munching or sometimes ambling at its base munching leaves.

On the right side the boundary angles from the stone pillar for a short distance before it straightens out, the first bit is a Hibiscus hedge before it turns into a hedge of Ixora that goes all the way to the end of the plot. This shrub is also loved by the butterflies and it was used as a hedging plant at the hotel we stayed in.

Bougainvillea FlowerScattered around the edge of the front garden are some cacti, some really vicious spiky succulents with spiky leave edges, eye piercingly pink Bougainvillea, there is also a tall shrub with arching flowering spikes of tiny purple flowers. There are small palms and shrubs that aren’t flowering at the moment so I have no idea what they are.

In front of the house are a couple of small palm trees and guarding each of the four corners of the house is what I assume is a succulent of some sort. It is just a huge mass of green stems with tiny minute little leaves along it and at the end a tiny clump of leaves. (If anyone knows what it’s called please let me know) I’ve tried looking it up but who knew there were so many different succulents and maybe one day I will want to waste endless hours searching to find it.

SucculentDown either side of the house is a 2 m wide empty space before you come to the rear garden, the only thing that seems to use it is the lizards who bask in the sun in the mornings on the white stones. The hibiscus hedge has sent out flowering stems to arch into the space. I don’t really know what happens on the right hand side as there are no windows to view it from where I sit and work. I can see the left hand passage and there is a constant stream of butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

The rear garden is on two levels, the main level has three Noni trees.

Noni Trees and FruitsWhat, I hear you say?

Noni trees, allegedly it has the most amazing properties, Boris swears by it and comes to collect the fallen fruit every few days. He squeezes them to extract the juice and has some every day. He presented My Love with a bottle but as yet ML hasn’t summoned up the courage to try it. The ripe fruit when broken open smells like really rancid cheese and the taste of the juice is so bad that you have to mix it with another juice to be able to swallow it.(It is nicknamed the Vomit Fruit which may give you some idea as to how vile it must taste)

Now if the old adage that:

If it Tastes Bad it Must be Good For You

is true then this stuff must be absolute magic. Anyway it sits in the kitchen next to the fruit bowl untouched and pristine.

On the right hand side there is an orange and a lime tree and either side of the steps down to the lower level of the garden is are two date palms. Along the far edge of the plot and round the edge of the cutaway lower garden are a mixture of Parakeet Flower (Heliconia Psittacorum), red leaved Ti plants (Cordyline Terminalis), Garden Croton (Codiaeum Variegatum), Bougainvilleas and Palicourea to name those I have been able to identify. There are lots more but am still trying to find them online.

Orange and Lime Trees Garden Plants Costa RicaRight on the edge of the top plant bed is the most enormous flower spike, it has to be over 3 m tall (10 ft) and it belongs to the Desert Agave (found it on the internet, although putting in broccoli tree didn’t get me the answer I was hoping for). Apparently the flower spikes can get to 4.5 m (15ft) and the plant only has one. Before the flowers opened it looked a bit like lumps of broccoli stuck at the ends of stems. These unfurled to the palest yellow flowers and the wasps from the date palm (They have built a paper nest under one of the palm leaves) love it.

Desert Agave Flower SpikeDesert Agave Flower

The bottom garden has no flowers at all, the sloping walls of loose stones have the odd green plant scrabbling to survive in between the cracks and across the edge before the drop to the barbed wire fence (this runs around the whole complex) and the stream are three more of the spiky succulents. There is a covered open sided structure with a table down there to sit and enjoy the shade of the trees that grow either side of the stream.

IMG_2672Now the trees hold a secret but more of that later. Taps nose

It is the dry season now so fruits are ripening but as this is a very dry part of Costa Rica lots of the trees drop their leaves, the hedges look sparser and the flowers are all coming to an end. We have had no rain here for the last eight weeks and this carries on for the next three months so it will be interesting to see what happens in the garden.

Someone in their wisdom when designing the garden put in soaker hoses so that the individual plant are watered via this system, I am extremely pleased as the thought of watering that lot each day is horrifying.

Living in Costa Rica

Blog Expat: living abroad

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