For centuries, the human race has been fascinated, almost bewitched by the rose. Artists like Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Redoute and Henri Fantin-Latour have romantically painted them into our imaginations.

We have sayings, quotes and poems dedicated to the rose, such as “stop and smell the roses,” “roses are red, violets are blue,” and “everything’s coming up roses.” Writers such as Shakespeare have left us with unforgettable words, such as “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

For major holidays, the rose is the most popular flower to be given as a gift. For Valentine’s Day 2013, an estimated 196 million roses were sent to loved ones in the United States alone. We have even assigned significance to each color: red for love, yellow for friendship, white for purity, pink for appreciation, and orange for desire.

My personal love of roses was handed down to me by my mother. For as long as I can remember, my mother had a huge rose garden and collection that at its peak included over 100 plants. It was a daily task to care for the roses in the manner in which they deserved. It truly is a labor of love.

Most people think that you can just plant a rose bush and have beautiful flowers year-round. I am here to tell you it is much more complicated than that. Quality, grafted roses take hours of care that include constant pruning, bug and disease control, and fertilizing, as well as a kind, loving and gentle conversation.

Having had several years’ break from growing roses, we realize it is a hobby and passion that we have missed. There is a special sense of accomplishment to look out your window and see something so beautiful flourish. Because all roses are not created equal, I began the search to seek out high quality, grafted roses here in Costa Rica.

A quick search on the internet and I found Solo Roses in Llano Grande de Cartago. This past Sunday, we got together with a group of friends and took a day trip to see if what I found on the internet was a reality.

Indeed, Solo Rosas was everything I had imagined. As we entered the nursery, a floodgate of memories was opened coming from the sweetly perfumed air, subtle to vibrant colors and varietals from tea rose to floribundas and climbers. Solo Rosas is ideally set up for tours and also to purchase rose plants and cut roses.

As you enter the reception area, you are greeted by an abundance of cut roses on display, all of different colors and varieties. Many of these can also be purchased either in plant form or as cut flowers.

Continuing on to the gardens and growing area, you are met with beautifully lined pathways of roses in every color imaginable. The pathways are nicely laid out, perfect for “frolicking”, offering benches along the way for resting. With rose varieties such as Julio Iglesias, Lolita Limpika, Paris d’Yves St. Laurent, La Sevillana, Queen Elizabeth, Visa and Revolution Frances, you feel as if you are surrounded by superstars, high fashion, royalty and luxury at its best.

In the background, the sounds of classical music delight the ear. The colors and aromas that are swirling around you, combined with the music, create a surreal and extremely romantic atmosphere. There was a young couple we met who were visiting Solo Rosas for the first time. They were so giddy and in love that they could not keep their hands off of one another. It is amazing that something as simple as a flower can evoke emotions such as happiness, joy, passion, excitement and love.

After you have hit sensory overload, you now have the overwhelming task of deciding which roses you want to take home. Before we made the journey, we had an idea of what we wanted. For plants such as roses, we feel it is best to plant in groupings of 3-4 plants of the same color. This will give you an abundance of blooms which are great for fresh bouquets.

In the end, we chose 4 different varieties: the Lolita Limpika, which is a fragrant, reddish, hot pink; the McCartney Rose, a fragrant medium pink; the Julio Iglesias, a fragrant red and white multicolored; and a non-fragrant, true white that we think is a John F. Kennedy. The truth is, you leave wanting to take home one of every color.

As we left the charming pueblo of Llano Grande, we spotted another rose nursery and just had to stop. Europlants is another small family-owned rose grower that offers a wide variety of high quality grafted roses to choose from. Unfortunately, we did not have much room left in our car, but we managed to find room for three Baron Rothschild climbing roses!

David at Europlants was eager to assist, and was very knowledgeable about every aspect of his products. Without question, we will be returning to Europlants in the near future to add to our new rose collection.

Even though I never promised you a rose garden, that does not mean you can’t have one. Costa Rica is a country that abounds with natural beauty and almost everything you plant will be coming up “roses.” If you want to start a new hobby that will add a lot of color and joy to your life, consider starting a rose garden.

Start small with quality roses and soon you will be rewarded with amazing beauty. Let us all be grateful for the beauty that surrounds us, the abundance that exists in our lives, and never be so busy that we can’t just stop and smell the roses!

Solo Rosas is located in Llano Grande de Cartago, 600 meters east and 300 meters north of the church of Llano Grande. Admission is 2,000 Colones for nationals and residents, or 3,000 Colones for foreigners. They offer beautiful rose gardens, rose plants for sale, areas for events, cut flowers and floral arrangements. Rose bushes start at 4,000 Colones and go up to 6,000 Colones. Solo Rosas is open Monday-Sunday 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. You can contact them on Facebook at Solo Rosas or by phone at 2530-2020.

Europlants is also located in Llano Grande de Cartago, 25 meters east of the central school (on the road to Solo Rosas, left hand side). They have beautiful rose plants on display with many varieties to choose from. Rose bushes start at 4,000 Colones and go up from there. Europlants offers a nice brochure on caring for your new plants, starting with planting, fertilizing and disease control. You can reach Europlants in Facebook under the same name, or call them at 2530-0687.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, Did I?

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