Spotlight on Roses

The roses this spring have been exceptionally beautiful.  Every time I look out the window, I am blown over with how gorgeous everything looks.  It’s a miracle what a little rain and cool weather can do for the landscape.

rosesbloomingk Who doesn’t love roses?  In the background are three Knockout Rose bushes.  To the right of those is a climbing rose, which hasn’t bloomed yet.

rosesbloomingiIn the foreground is an Oso Easy Paprika bush with the wonderful peachy, salmon colored flowers.  And it is truly easy.  It just needs a little water, lots of sun, and deadheading in order to produce more blooms.

rosesblooming9That color is indefineable.

rosebloom8In the same long flowerbed are four hybrid rose bushes.  This one is a Grandiflora ‘Double Delight’ hybrid tea rose.  The Double Delight has the strongest and best fragrance of any rose I have.  Highly recommend it.

Behind these roses is a tangerine colored rose from the bush beside it.  That is a Floribunda ‘Tropicana’.

rosebloom9This is a Grandiflora.

roseblooma‘Mr. Lincoln’ is a classic hybrid tea rose with deep red roses and a nice scent.

All of the rose bushes in this long bed are from 8 to 10 years old.

rosesbloominghOn the other side of the house is another rose flowerbed.  This ‘Katy Road’ Rose is usually just a so-so bloomer.

rosesblooming4This year it has gone crazy and has a wonderful aroma.

rosebloom6‘Belinda’s Dream’ has always put on a show blooming over and over from spring until the first frost.  The flowers have a great form with lots of petals.

rosesbloomingdAlso in that bed are a couple of bushes with yellow flowers.

rosesblooming10They are both grandifloras, but that’s all I know.

rosesbloomingeAnd another bush with flowers that have a superb color.  The bush itself has stayed small but is outstanding because its blooms are so pretty.  Sure wish I knew the name of this rose, but that information is long gone.

rosebloom5Here’s the same bush a little later with more flowers.  The Ox Eye daisies beside it have just begun to show their stuff.

rosesblooming8This flower color is one of my favorites.

rosebloomLast fall we finished a new bed in the front yard.  So this spring we planted some drift roses.  These are ‘Coral Drift’ (Rosa ‘meidrifora’).  I chose drift roses because I wanted them to remain short and not spread out too much.

Drift® roses are the result of a cross between ground cover roses and miniature roses.  They work well in containers, at the front of landscape beds, or as a ground cover.  Each bush should grow two to three feet wide and just one and a half feet tall.

rosebloom2So far they’ve been covered with blooms.  The flowers are more complex than knock outs with more petals.  I think these are going to be winners.

It seems that there are roses for just about any spot – as long as it’s sunny.

rosebloom7What a enormous blessings rain and a mild spring bring.  It really is true that April showers bring May flowers, or in this case, April roses.

“As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round.”
Ben Hogan

Blooming Irises and Bridal Wreath Spirea

Over the years I’ve received iris bulbs from family and friends.  These have been the heirloom or old-fashioned kind – great pass along plants.

irisbThey were planted in a field across from our driveway because heirloom irises cannot endure regular watering.  That’s the reason they can be found near old abandoned homesteads and in cemeteries.

iris4So they perform poorly some years depending on the amount and timing of rainfall.

irisdThis year they have bloomed abundantly and have provided many bouquets for the house.  There are probably a 100 bulbs although I haven’t counted them.  Many should be divided, but I can’t seem to muster the energy to do that at the proper time of hot August and September.

iriseThere hasn’t been oodles of rain – just enough at the right times.  A few drops on these petals are from just a misting of rain.

iriscThey hold their own among the weeds and wild grass.  In the past I have attempted to pull weeds from around them, but they come back so quickly that I’ve given up.  I do mow paths around the rows just to make it easier to see them and to cut the flowers.

irisfA few years ago I ordered some reblooming irises to plant in the yard.  These actually need regular water.

In the background of this picture, you can see beyond our actual yard.

iris7Last year I divided those and put some in other flower beds around the house, so now some are visible from windows in every direction.  Makes for a lovely spring view.

iris9If the weather cooperates, they all should rebloom in the fall.

irisaAlthough purple ones are my favorite, the muted shades offer a soft touch.

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iris3It’s amazing that the wind doesn’t beat them to death each year.  Even though the individual blooms don’t last but a few days, there are enough new blooms each day that the show lasts for weeks.

irisThird year was the charm for this Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).  For the first two years, the small smattering of flowers made me doubt the wisdom of buying this plant.

iris2This year every branch was crammed full of gorgeous blossoms.

iris1Spring has been a great surprise this year with fields full of wildflowers and a yard full of flowers.

“What we all knew to be true: what makes you cool in middle school makes you a failure in life.”   Unknown

Zipping in Costa Rica

Continuing with our full day at Selvatura Park in Costa Rica, we next visit an area with a dozen hummingbird feeders.

IMG_3926All of the hummingbird pictures were taken by Diane Atchison.  This picture demonstrates the reason I didn’t have any successful pictures – bees everywhere.

IMG_3932Diane had a really powerful zoom, so I’m assuming that she stood back from the bees zipping back and forth.

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IMG_3997The few times that bees or wasps have been on our feeders, they seemed to be after any sugar water that had spilled out.  But these little guys are dipping into the feeder.

IMG_4010There are 50 different varieties of hummingbirds in Costa Rica.  I’ve tried to identify them from the internet, but only came up with a few names.

IMG_4011Violet Sabrewing

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IMG_4033Purple Throated Mountain Gem

Now to switch to a different kind of zipping:

ziplineZip lining was an optional activity at Selvatura Park.

Crazy me – I planned to take my camera and snap some great shots from up high.  But … nothing could be carried because hands were needed to hang on as gravity carried one zipping along at a good clip. – hence the name.

zipline2These pictures came from Selvatura website.  There were 13 different zip lines with walks, some pretty long, in between the towers.

ziplinetower - CopyHere’s one of the towers that the zip lines were attached to.  Some of the platforms were pretty small, but all were high.

ziplineclipWe had a chain with a pulley attached to our body – like a member of a chain gang.  In order to be hooked up, we had to jump up so the attendant could connect our pulley to the hook on the line.

These young men worked hard all day, not only making sure we stopped and got onto the platform safely and connecting us for the next line, but helping those who requested special assistance.  They walked supporting some older ladies from one tower to the next, then worked the tower, and went behind each lady on the next line.

In addition, if a person stopped on the line, they had to come upside down and pull themselves out to rescue the person by then pulling them to the tower.  Very hard work all day.

zipline4The last line was 1,000 meters (over a half mile) long.  Thankfully, they paired people up because more weight was needed.  So my husband was behind me with his legs around me and his ankles hooked together in my lap.

RF333CD-057This was taken on the second line.  We paid to have our picture taken from a tower.  When I came to the end of this line, I was ready to call it finished.  But there was no alternative but to finish the zip lining.  Made me wonder what would happen in case of a medical emergency.

The long day started as we arrived at the park at 8 am, walked the hanging bridges, visited the butterfly garden and hummingbird area.  Then some of us spent 4 hours doing the zip line.  We arrived back just in time for a dinner reservation.

Wonderful park.

I accidentally posted this one before the butterfly post.  So I’m sorry that these are out of order.

“The director sent for me for Tarzan. I climbed the tree and walked out on a limb. The next day I was told I was an actor.”
Johnny Weissmuller

Above Tree Canopy in Costa Rica

A full day at Selvatura Park in the Monteverde Cloud Forest took us high above the forest and deep inside the thickness of trees and plants.

If a picture does not have my copyright on it, then it was taken by Diane Atchison.

bridgetrail9This place was so impressive because it is built in an incredibly difficult terrain and the roads to get there are crazy.  Also, all the facilities are very well done.  The above building looks like an Alpine chalet but is a restaurant.

bridgetrailaIn front of the restaurant is a beautifully landscaped area.  Sure, it is easy to grow plants here.  But the work still has to be done to make it neat and orderly.

bridgetrailbSuch interesting plants.

bridgetrailcRed Crotons, I think.

bridgetraildPapyrus?

bridgetraileLooking from the restaurant to another building, which is where the zip lines start and end.  More about that in another post.

IMG_3858First we walked a circular route across 8 hanging bridges with paths in between them.  The total length was 2 miles.

IMG_3813Looking across the tree tops.

bridgetrail4Misty rain made the metal a little slippery.  The bridges were constructed of connected pieces of heavy metal.  It swayed a little in the wind and bounced as we walked.

In the pre-trip information, rain gear was suggested.  My husband and I also had a light jacket, which we ended up wearing almost every day.  Not the weather we expected.

bridgetrailThe word “jungle” comes to mind.

bridgetrail2One of the surprising things to me was how tall bushes can grow to reach sunlight.

bridgetrail5And vines with flowers growing up the trees.

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IMG_3818Such a sharp picture.  Seriously, I need to get a camera like Diane’s or learn her photography skills.

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IMG_3839The day’s activities had only begun at this point.  More on my next Costa Rica post.

“Sadly, it’s much easier to create a desert than a forest.”        James Lovelock

Springtime in Texas

Nothing is better than early spring in Texas.  The weather is cool, the trees and fields turn green, seemingly overnight, and the wildflowers are spectacular.

So I’m going to interrupt the posts about Costa Rica again because this subject is current.

springroadThe color of the Texas Redbud trees (Cercis canadensis var. texensis)  is stunning.

springroad1Can’t remember what this bush next to the Redbud is.  I think it’s in the blackberry family.

springroad2Beautiful.  Sadly, they’re a flash in the pan.

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springroad4This flowerbed of Bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) in front of the library in Mason has a wow factor.

springroad5Unfortunately, all my pictures from this day have a blurry spot from a fingerprint smudge on my camera lens.  I didn’t notice it until I saw the pictures on my computer.  Sorry.  I hope it isn’t too off putting.

springroad6The author of Old Yeller, published in 1956, was written by a Mason native, Fred Gipson.  The book won a Newbery, a national award for children’s books, and was made into a very popular Disney film.

springroad7South of Mason, the fields and roadsides were a patchwork quilt of colors.

springroad9Here Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and a variety of Verbena dot the landscape.

springroadaTexas Paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa) is the variety of paintbrush familiar to most Texans.

springroadbOf course, Bluebonnets are the star of the show every year, although they are short lived.

springroaddYellow flowers abound everywhere.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are so many different ones that it’s hard for me to identify them.

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springroadhPaper Daisy or Slender-stem Bitterweed (Hymenoxys scaposa)

springroadjMaybe a Tickseed Sunflower (Bidens aristosa)

springroadkDowny Paintbrush (Castilleja sessiliflora), like other paintbrushes, is almost impossible to dig up and transplant because it is semiparasitic on other plants.  It must be started from seeds.

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bluebonnetfieldA picture from the internet that shows a vast coverage of Bluebonnets.  I’ve never seen a sight like this one.

Just loving these days before the summer heat arrives.

“Why are cowboy hats turned up on the sides?  So that three people can fit in the pickup.  Unknown

Monteverde Cloud Forest

After a long travel morning, we stopped for lunch in Santa Elena.  Sometimes lunch breaks presented several restaurant choices.

CRforest3We choose this one because of its uniqueness.  Obviously, it caters to English speaking tourists.

CRforest4The tree is a ficus.

CRforestSetting is lovely.

CRforest2The restaurant opened in 2004.  Many of the hand carved tables kept the shape of the tree trunk.  Good food, too.

CRforestdLate afternoon arrival.  The hotel rooms are perched on the sides of a couple of mountainsides.  The restaurant is at the bottom of the mountain, about a mile away.  So our bus or shuttles provided rides.

CRforesteThe rooms were ultra modern and spacious.  Very nice accommodations.

CRforestgAs could be expected, plants were lush around the buildings.

CRforestfThe view from our window:  sun sitting across the mountains.

Our guide usually did a commentary of interesting information about Costa Rica as we traveled.  This day he had talked about the settlers of the Monteverde Cloud Forest area.  This is the short version.

In 1951 a few US Quakers were released from short prison terms.  They had refused to register for the draft.  A group of 47 Quakers looked for a new country and chose Costa Rica because the government did not have a military.  They purchased 50,000 acres for $50,000 US dollars.

The trip from Alabama to Costa Rica took 3 months.  It took one month to travel from the border of Nicaragua to the Monteverde area, a distance of 12 miles.  Their vehicles broke down.  They bought ox carts and followed ox trails.  They learned some Spanish as they traveled.

After experimenting with crops and getting those crops to market, they finally settled on cheese production.  Several lived in tents for years.  They intermarried with Costa Ricans.  Today, they are still a thriving community with a large cheese factory that supplies all of Costa Rica with a soft white cheese.

CRforest5Early morning visit to Monteverde Cloud Forest.  Our guide strove for us to be the first group at every destination.

CRforest7Moss growing on many trees and plants.  Of course, I don’t know the name of the plants.

CRforest9Just scroll through the pictures to see a cloud forest environment.

CRforestcThe following pictures were provided by Diane Atchison.  She did a better job managing the light that filtered in from the sky and spoiled many of my pictures.

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IMG_3693Mushrooms – not a surprise.

IMG_3699Most of the flowers we saw in the forest had small, rather pointed looking petals which are actually bracts.

IMG_3702Our first glance of a coati.  Coatis live in any wooded areas in Central and South America.

IMG_3751They are in the racoon family with rings on the tail that are barely visible.  They sleep in trees, dig for insects with long snouts and also eat fruits.

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IMG_3707A lovely, tall waterfall was near the end of our trail.  Thanks to Diane for sharing her pix.

Although I wouldn’t want to live in a humid forest, the lush growing conditions were enviable.

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.”  Plato

Macaws in Costa Rica

On the road again for a full day drive to our next destination. RicaCostacThis place has a snack bar and more importantly, bathrooms.  Therefore, it is a frequent tourist stop.  Note the tall mango trees.

RicaCostaAcross the highway are these statutes that show two important animals in Costa Rica – howler monkeys and Brahma cattle.  One reason Brahmas are the cattle of choice is the extreme heat and humidity.  This breed can handle the heat because of their large ears and thin skin which allows them to more efficiently cool their bodies.  They are totally grass fed.  This lean beef is what is served in restaurants.

RicaCostabIn the mango trees someone spotted macaws and quickly a crowd gathered.

RicaCosta9Macaws are simply long-tailed, colorful New World parrots.  I thought they were more exotic than a parrot.  They are native to Central America as well as Mexico and South America.

RicaCosta8Macaws have powerful beaks that can easily crack nuts and seeds, while their dry, scaly tongues have a bone inside them that makes them an effective tool for tapping into fruits.

Macaws also have gripping toes allowing them to latch onto branches and to grab, hold, and examine items.

RicaCosta1Macaws are intelligent, social birds that often gather in flocks of 10 to 30.  Their loud squawks reverberate through the trees. These calls help them communicate with the flock and to mark territory. Some species can even mimic human speech, just like pet parrots.

RicaCosta3Flocks sleep in the trees at night.  During the day they sometimes have to fly long distances to feed on fruit, nuts, insect, and snails. RicaCosta4There are 17 species of macaws, and several are endangered. These playful birds are popular pets, and many are illegally trapped and sold.  Another problem is disappearing rain forests due to logging and other problems.

RicaCosta6This one flew down right in front of me, seemingly oblivious to all the people standing around him.

RicaCostadMacaws typically mate for life. They also share food with their mates and groom each other.  In breeding season, mothers incubate eggs while fathers hunt and bring food back to the nest.

RicaCostaeIt was an unexpected treat to see macaws in their natural habitat.

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”  Will Rogers