Along with gusting winds and dry sunny days, summer on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific coast also brings a profusion of colour to relieve the endless sea of green that marks the rainy season. December’s infrequent rains give way to January’s droughts, and as the landscape dries to brown and gold, the denuded trees suddenly burst into brilliant bloom.
Splashes of intense yellows, oranges, pinks and violets spatter the hills, and cascades of blossoms are shaken loose in the strong breezes, leaving colourful carpets along the roadsides.
The flowering trees are great favourites for the dry tropical forest’s inhabitants; orange-fronted parrots cluster in gregarious flocks to nip at the seed pods that follow the spent blooms, iguanas munch thoughtfully on the bright blossoms, while cinnamon and star-throated hummingbirds zip tirelessly to and fro, sipping the nectar that lays at their hearts.
Many previously unassuming trees are now the belles of the ball. The yellow cortez is a local favourite, with intense golden flowers that blaze like beacons from miles away. The coral sandal, or pink shower tree, calls the eye more demurely, while the cañafistula, or yellow shower tree, is lavish with rich clusters of yellow flowers like grapes.
Some of the flowers, like the sweet pink-and-white blossoms of the madero negro, are even edible, dressing a fresh summer salad to perfection. Summer’s blooms are the greatest show of colour for the year, all the more vibrant against the sere backdrop of dried grasses.