Rob's Garden

Costa Rica Cost of Living Update: Magic Root for making bushes from clippings— $5

It’s the rainy season here in Costa Rica which in my house means I will only see my husband in the morning when he drinks a cup of coffee. After that, he is off to the garden. I would describe him as having a green thumb. Or more accurately, a swollen green and purple thumb because he constantly gets stuck with bougainvillea thorns.

“Don’t you think all these plants are overkill, Rob?” I ask.

“I’m making a double layer security fence, so I’m planting red, white, and pink bougainvillea mixed with hibiscus. But not all sloppy and mixed up.”

“Of course, Rob. That would be insane.”

He ignores me and continues talking. “There needs to be two meters of red, two meters of white, two meters of pink, and two meters of mixed red and white… in that order. That pattern will continue around the entire property.”

This is quite the attention to detail.

“It’s better and cheaper than a security wall,” he says. “But the bougainvillea will take a while. I can’t find all the colors I need. I can propagate reds, orange, purple and mixed white and purple, but I will need to buy the pure white and pinks. They just won’t take for me, and I can’t even find them in the nurseries. Until it gets going, I think I will run a clear line with sharp, barbed fishing hooks throughout the hibiscus.”

My property line is going to resemble a unicorn fart. And there is nothing more colorful than that. “You do realize that the fence is already made of barbed wire? Fish hooks seem a bit superfluous unless catch and release is part of your security plan?”

“Only catch. No release.”

Unicorn Farts

Rob thinks about what I said for a moment. “You’re right. It’s redundant, and the extra layer of the thorns should work just fine. If anyone tries to get in, we will know. I’ll just follow the trail of bloody evidence to see where it leads. That should work.”

Wow, it’s like a Jason Bourne movie right in our backyard. I look down at Rob’s hands, and most of his fingers are swollen. He’s planted hundreds of bougainvillea plants and has pricked himself with hundreds of thorns. Although the plant is mildly toxic, the thorns can lead to symptoms that mimic poison oak.

“Honey, your hands look awful,” I say.


“Exactly what?” I ask.

“It’s a security fence, sweetie. The whole idea is to make it really uncomfortable to sneak through. Now I’ve got to get back to work. I need to rappel over the ledge to plant more almond trees.”

“Is that for security too?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s to attract parrots.”

So that’s the first installment of Rob’s Thorny Tales From the Garden. I’m sure there will be a second, and third edition because even with his swollen fingers the garden is the place where my husband is the happiest. And having a happy husband is all the security I need.


Pretty Flower