I think it is very fitting that I was born on the first day of spring – March 20th. With that said, I actually think spring starts a lot earlier! Looking around I’m sure many of you would agree with me. Spring to me means fruit trees blooming – check. Daffodils blooming – check. Roses breaking dormancy – check. My camera has never been so busy. Every where I turn I marvel in the new blooms. It doesn’t matter that it happens every year, I am still in awe of new blooms of any kind. The following are some I managed to catch while out and about. I am no photographer – I don’t have the patience to even read the manual that comes with my camera, let alone change settings from one picture to the next.
Magnolia x soulangeana
The saucer Magnolias are easy to grow small trees. They are grown for their beautiful showy flowers that scream “hey it’s the start of spring”. The rest of the year they are “eh” looking. Give them morning sun, afternoon shade and a dose of soil sulfur if leaves are burnt and yellow. Too beautiful not to plant! Many different varieties.
Poor Oxalis, they get such a bad rap due to their horrific weedy cousin. But there are so many other species including California natives and this South African native. These do not spread like the weedy Oxalis, but really would you mind if this made its way through your garden? I wouldn’t. This one likes sun and goes dormant in the summer.
Camellia japonica (lost label so not sure which!)
Hello gorgeous! Some flowers I love because of their gaudiness. They are like the peacocks or showgirls of the flower world. Other flowers are just elegant. If they were people they would be Audrey Hepburn and this Camellia is just such one. Understated beauty. Camellias need acid conditions so keep soil pH below 7. In less acidic soil areas, growing in a pot is a good idea. Add soil sulfur twice a year to keep them happy.
Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’
Why isn’t there a perfume called ‘Daphne’? Because really, this one is one of the most wonderful scents there is. Yes, the plant is a bit finicky. Yep, it’s another acid lover but the pay off for a little bit more pampering is well worth it. Love Love Love the scent! Morning sun or all day dappled shade in moist well draining soil will make this one happy.
Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’
Honeywort is a little known annual but worth planting. This cutie keeps re-seeding its self in my garden but in a really well behaved way. It never grows past 2 square feet. One of the late winter/early spring bloomers I just love. The only downfall is the small flowers dangle delicately down so I need to do some acrobatics and yoga moves to see the flowers head on.
Ribes sanguineum ‘Claremont’
Pink flowering current
Ridiculously beautiful! Should be outlawed to be so pretty and dainty! Reminds me of a whole bunch of little ballerinas. This Ribes is an easy to grow California native with short-lived flowers but nice foliage that makes it well worth growing. The yellow Ribes aerum is just as showy without the dainty – just in case you don’t do dainty and need manly! Grow both in morning sun and afternoon shade.
Helleborus x hybridus
Someone I know can’t resist calling the Helleborus ‘hella-boring’. Yeah sure it’s not the showiest flower or best foliage but there is just something about it. With so many new varieties that have interesting foliage and flowers other than their typical green, I’m a fan. They look their best when planted in masses in a shady dry area. Dry shade?? That alone is a plus!
One of the easiest and most rewarding of the the California natives. This hummingbird sage seems to bloom year-round. This is a good thing because it has a rambling, messy growth habit but the blooms make you forget about its negatives. Haven’t little kids mastered this? Don’t they smile really cute after they have just caused destruction! Grow this native in well-draining to moist soil in partial shade to full sun.
Aloes – including Aloe marlothii (top left) and ferox (right)
The Aloes have been putting on quite the show for the last several weeks. This is pretty phenomenal considering the Botanical Conservatory specimens pretty much rely only on winter rains and as we know up until recently that has been a big fat ZERO. With beautiful interesting foliage, hummingbird attractants, bright showy flower, AND incredibly drought tolerant, why wouldn’t you plant a few species? They do prefer well-draining soil so amend with lava rock or plant on a mound.
These of course are not all the blooming plants right now – just a sampling of what is out there. I hope I can actually get some work done at the conservatory instead of taking pictures!