March 14, 2011

Flowers from California that I Miss

This is the time of year when I wish we still lived in sunny, warm California. So I pulled out some photos taken at the Santa Barbara Zoo when we visited over the Christmas holiday. Above is Clivia miniata, which only grows as a houseplant here. Our neighbor in Santa Clara had several - including a yellow one - growing happily in the ground.

Well do I remember sitting in the park with friends while watching our preschoolers playing on the toys and exclaiming, "This is why we pay such high rent! So we can sit at the park in March with 70 degree weather." Above and below are pictures of California Lilac, or Ceanothus.

The rent is cheaper in Spokane, but we stay indoors and away from parks in March. Although this week we are supposed to reach 50 degrees a few times, which is fabulous weather for this time of year in Spokane.

I have no idea what plant produces the pink flower above (any guesses?), but the fact that it was evergreen and blooming over Christmas break was charming.

I think Agapanthus is the plant I miss most from California, with Zantedeschia aethiopica (Calla lily) a close second. They both grew like weeds in full sun or shade in my California garden, and they seemed so exotic to eyes used to colder climates. I don't think I ever mentioned that neither of the 'hardy' agapanthus that I planted in my garden (see this post) survived the first winter here. I piled some bark over top to help protect them, but it wasn't enough.

I have gradually realized that my garden at the bottom of the Spokane valley is in a harsh microclimate, despite being rated at zone 5. We trap the heat in the late afternoon if the sun is out, then all the cold air sinks down at night. That makes for wider extremes of temperature (and more late spring and early fall frosts) than the areas farther up on the hills. Plus our looong winters are stressful for many plants. Above is a grouping of succulents: jade plant and Echevaria, perhaps?

But enough moaning about my microclimate. The good news is that the 'Golden Bunch' crocus started blooming last week (above), and yesterday the kids and I were happy to notice some of the lavender Crocus tommasinianus starting to bloom as well. Early or late, spring does come eventually.


  1. It's always seem greener on the other side of the fence. :) From here, I like the plants that you can grow. We can't grow lilacs here the way you can in Spokane. I wish my yard gets a little bit more rain than it does.

  2. I have a Clivia, as a houseplant. I understand missing plants that dont grow in your new area. I still miss the common lilac...too hot in the south to grow it. I saw that California lilac at a garden center in Virginia, really neat plant.

  3. I miss plants from California too! But I've never lived there. If I did I really don't think I could ever leave. Glad to hear you are getting a little warmer weather, you guys deserve it!

  4. Glad your crocuses have started! We had four inches of snow over the weekend, but it is melted again. Spring is a drama queen in March.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I'm sorry the Agapanthus didn't survive the winter in your garden. I've lost them from here too but most winters they do okay. Methinks you need to consider getting a heated greenhouse!

    Beautiful pictures I wonder what that pink flower is too. Yay, Crocus!!

  6. Love that agapanthas. It looks like a fairy's umbrella. So sorry it didn't survive the Winter. Your Mormon profile is inspiring... I must make one. Thanks so much for sharing.

  7. Your pictures are beautiful, and I hope you will stop missing California when spring comes to your garden.

  8. Beautiful photos :-) Hang in there!!

  9. VW, I'm prone to agapanthus envy, too; and this is the time of year we cold climate gardeners are most likely to feel grumpy about what we can't grow. Enjoy your crocus (it's lovely), and it might help to remember that all your lovely delphiniums never would have made it in Santa Barbara. -Jean

  10. Wow! it's good to know someone else knows the town called El Dorado Hills! When we moved here, about eleven years ago, people asked us how to get to our new place and we'd tell them to watch the movie "Road to El Dorado". :)

    Yes, it gets HOT here in the summer. But the longer we live here the cooler it seems. Maybe because the trees we planted are making our microclimate cooler.

  11. Hi,

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  12. Hey VW .. I think some did mention "the grass is always greener on the other side ?" LOL
    I miss Holland for this time of the year especially ... it was so gorgeous with blooming flowers and sunny weather .. Spring was truly SPRING there. I wanted to ask if you have the David Austin white rose "Winchester Cathedral" I ordered it to pair with my William Shakespeare for a red and white theme .. plus that amazing rose scent .. what do you think of it ? The rose I mean ? haha

  13. Hi VW, I know how you're feeling right now. Although we don't have snow on the ground at home here in Tasmania, I really look forward to my first Spring flowers appearing - usually jonquils & daffodils! Right now I have red nerines & chrysanthemums in flower and one of my agapanthus has produced its last flower before the weather gets too cold. I have lots of agapanthus in my garden in 3 colours - deep purple, light purple and white. Enjoy Spring when it arrives...


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