Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Surprises

Even in Southern California, winter is a time of relative quiet.  As the days get longer and the temperatures grow warmer, the plants gradually wake up from their winter slump.  The process starts slowly.  You notice a plant here or there putting on new growth.  A tree bursts into bloom.  Bulbs poke through the soil.  Then, suddenly, everything seems to come alive all at once.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about spring is that it always feels like a surprise, even if we know it's coming.  Gardeners eagerly anticipate the event and make preparations to herald its arrival.  Weather forecasters and news anchors remind us that it's coming.  Birds act as envoys, building nests and visiting feeders in ever increasing numbers.  Despite all the advance notice, there's generally one point, usually when I'm at work in the garden, when I realize - on a visceral level having no relationship to the calendar or new reports - that spring is indeed here.  For me, that day was yesterday, when I looked over and realized that my columbine was blooming.  From that point, everywhere I looked, spring was staring me right in the face.

I spent some time on Easter morning recording its presence.  The columbine was aptly named.

Aquilegia hybrid 'Spring Magic'
These daffodils, in a variety I planted this fall for the first time, bloomed in unison, unlike my other varieties.
Narcissus 'White Lion
 Yellow blooms showed up wherever I looked.

Papaver nudicaule

Another Iceland poppy

Genista canariensis

Phlomis fruticosa (aka Jerusalem Sage) now reaching full bloom

When I noticed this bearded Iris, I thought it was going to be the first in my garden to bloom.

Bearded Iris (No ID)
That is, until I saw this one down near the bottom of my back slope.  I dug up a number of small Iris tubers from my back border last summer.  They hadn't bloomed during our first 2 years here and I didn't hold out much promise for them but, when I was looking for cheap ways of filling in the bed created along our slope, I tucked some of these in, not expecting much.  The appearance of this one, especially this early, was a real surprise.

Bearded Iris (No ID)

I shouldn't have been surprised that the California poppies I planted from seed last year returned with vigor.  They're intertwined with a Pelargonium here.

Eschscholzia and Pelargonium peltatum

Pelargonium peltatum in bloom

My pink Cistus, which grew rapidly to a height of about 4 feet from a plant in a 4-inch pot, is producing its first blooms this season.

Cistus 'Sunset'
 The thyme I used to replace some of what was formerly lawn is now in full bloom.

Thymus praecox 'Pink Chintz'

My new rose is about to bloom for the first time.

Rosa 'Ebb Tide'
 And the established shrub roses that fill my front yard beds are just coming into bloom.

Rosa 'Pink Meidiland'

Even the Pittosporum tobira I thoroughly thinned last year is blooming.

Pittosporum tobira

New foliage is showing up everywhere, from shrubs to trees.

Calliandra haematocephala

Fig 'Black Mission'

Persimmon 'Hachiya'

Two plants appear to be back from the dead.  The Michauxia campanuloides, which I planted last June and which appeared to have died by August, has unexpectedly reappeared.

Michauxia campanuloides

The tree peony I planted in March 2011, which I mistakenly stepped on just as was emerging from dormancy, has forgiven me and produced foliage, renewing hope that, maybe this year, it'll bloom.

Paeonia 'Shimadaijin'

I hope your spring also brings pleasant surprises.


  1. You're right on as far as spring being a surprise. We're still a bit behind you around here but heading in the right direction. Happy Easter Kris!

    1. Despite your late spring, it looks as though you're charging forth with spring preparations in your own garden, Sue. A belated happy Easter to you and best wishes with your own spring garden!