Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Scored on plants atElse Kientzler Botanical Garden

Saturday we visited the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden in Sarchi which is less 45 minutes from our house.The last time we were there with brothers Michael and John they mentioned the festival this weekend and that they would have plants for sale. We were there an hour or so before the crowds. When I asked about the kinds of plants for sale, I mentioned that I was hoping they would have the Elephant ears for sale ((Colocasia Esculenta Black Magic). He said “oh, they grow very fast, we’ll dig some up for you”!

They gave me 8 or more of the black ones and another 6 or so of the green and purple ones, pretty good sized bulbs.

My friend mentioned that she likes pampas grass, so they gave us several starts of that as well.

We also bought cleome, Mexican heather, portulaca, and a green/gold ground cover and some airy white flowering plants---18 plants for about $12-13.

He also told me to “steal” cuttings from the coleus I like.

He is the manager and has remembered us the last few times we’ve been there. It was about 95 degrees there today, we are so happy to live on our cool mountain. We were sweltering at 10 am.

I took lots of pictures. Enjoy the slidshow!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Driver's Licenses!

Yesterday was an interesting day. Our CR driver’s licenses were due expire at the end of the April. Fortunately there’s an office here in San Ramon where we can renew. We had to get our first licenses in San Jose and two years ago, I posted a long article on the blog here telling THAT story.

Anyway, our first stop was at a Doctor’s office to get our medical certificate. There are probably a dozen within a block of the license office that only do these exams. After a cursory exam, we got our forms and to our delight, this office was able to give us the necessary bank receipt for our license fee, saving us a trip to the Bank of CR. The licensing office doesn’t accept any money. We then waited in a queue outside of the license office for about 20 minutes. When we presented our documents at the window, everything was in order, except that we needed copies of our national ID cards. Fortunately, the official let Collie enter and get in the queue to get our pictures taken and sent me down the street to get copies made for 20 cents each. (We have never been in any government office that will make copies). I returned with the copies and joined Collie in a seated waiting area inside where there were about 8-10 people ahead of us. The line moved quickly, and we got our new licenses hot off the hi-tech machine, and had to sign for them in an old fashioned ledger book. Technology in this country is a wonderful study in contrast. The 1950 meets 2010.

From the time that we got to the Dr’s office until we walked out with our new licenses, 2 hours. Total cost for both of us, approximately $100. But the good news is that these new licenses are good for 6 years.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New art serendipity!

We just acquired a beautiful new painting of parrots for the casita. We’ve been looking for some time now for some nice art for the casita living room, but haven’t seen anything that we liked (and can afford).

Some friends need a new website, and Earl does wonderful art, so we’re bartering. Norm’s building their website in exchange for art. Serendipity!

We’re all thrilled with the trade. The parrots look so much better than the sailing dingy picture that it replaced. Thanks Earl!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Orchids and such

We have been enjoying the orchids in bloom for the last several months.
Our guitite trees, former dead looking branches have come to life, not only with new growth but with the attached orchids.

A friend has helped in identifying them for me.
Besides the orchids on the guitite, we have many on other trees on the property. I am constantly peering into the trees in search of blooms. Some are very tiny and hard to see. I am sure that I have missed many, since they blend with all the other epiphytes. If they aren’t blooming it is very hard to tell (for me) if they are orchids, bromeliad, or some other plant.

We went with friends to Sergio’s off the grid finca (farm) to purchase some Guardia Morada orchids. Sergio’s wife has insisted that they move to a home near family and running water and electricity. So he’s selling his orchids, since leaving them unattended would invite folks to steal them. They are highly prized because of their showy purple blossoms and because they are the national flower. We bought a couple of them and have mounted them in trees here. They only bloom in February.

We have about a month to go before the green season arrives. We are looking forward to doing additional planting. We had 80 large bags of chicken manure delivered a couple of weeks ago and Mario is mixing it into the planted areas.

Django is a big boy at 11 months. He weighs 72 pounds and still very much a puppy. We had to remove all the grass sod in the cats’ and his fenced area, since he was wrecking it with his digging . We have fine gravel now and the cats really like rolling in it. Makes for a better back scratching surface.

I’ve been hoping to grow figs, and have three puny trees. At a Spanish lesson a couple of weeks ago, I asked my teacher if she has ever seen fresh figs at the market. We have received candied figs as a small gift from several Tico friends when they have come to our house. However, I have never seen fresh figs at the farmer’s market. Grettel, our Spanish teacher, said “come with me”. We went across the driveway to her mother in law’s house. Grettel said that her tree is like a machine and produces figs constantly. She also said that they are hard to grow. Grettel’s mother, just about one mile away hasn’t been able to grow them. The tree was loaded and we picked a bag for me. Her mother-in-law had me taste her deliciously cooked figs. They gave me the recipe, so that I could prepare my own. When we returned to the lesson, I asked her if they would ripen, since they were still green. She said that they wouldn’t off the tree. Upon further discussion, I learned that they do not let them ripen. She was astonished to learn of the very short fig season in Seattle and how they are beautifully presented in restaurants in various preparations---grilled or as a fresh dessert. Grettel and her mother-in-law have covered a branch with a bag to keep the birds from eating the figs as they ripen. So, I am dreaming of ripe figs, and there is hope.