This large stalky purple plant is growing just about everywhere I look right now and I don’t know the name of it. It reminds me of an endangered plant you might find in the jungles of Central America or something from the mind of Dr. Seuss and one of his Sneetches books. I used it about a month ago in this bright yellow arrangement (above left) along with the non blooming greenery accompanying the plant itself because it is so unusual and has such a striking color. I also like mixing textures, and the heaviness of the bloom was a nice contrast to the more thin and delicate daffodil blooms.
Walking back from a nice hike yesterday, I couldn’t resist in helping myself to some of this plant. After all it is growing like a weed (because it is) from a large overgrown cluster that is currently attempting to take over a side street in the neighborhood. How could I not perform my civic duty of local pruning in the lovely 94965…I am considerate yes.
I was stopped though mid pluck, by our postman Barney who advised me to not let this wild purple plant get in contact with the skin. I smiled, as I was standing there clutching 5 large stalks, that were in fact itching my hands like crazy…soap and water, followed by lotion is what Barney recommended. I rarely use gloves and I know I should. I’ve already had my first encounter with poison oak, and that was not a memorably pleasant experience. Luckily the itching subsided and has not returned.
I certainly miss floral designing and loosely arranging flowers as I once did in a previous life. In the meantime I am using my boundless passion for flowers and creativity by encouraging local blooms into local vases.
I am a huge fan of these white and black rectangular vases. I would have loved to use this tall white vase (below)
to fill with these wild exotic purple blooms.
Unfortunately these vintage glasses do not belong to me, I had a client who brought them in to have some flowers arranged in them.
She had quite a vintage glass collection and was gifting these to a friend.
Previously she came in with a set of Flinstones glasses from Pizza Hut circa 1970 something. In those I did bright orange and pink gerber daisies, it was super cute and she loved it.
Succulent collection and ferns from off the beaten path, arranged in a glass cube
Not sure of the name of this purple flower. It’s growing in the front yard, and I thought I’d try the blooms floating in this new cobalt blue glass bowl. I’m having a floating moment…
Each day I walk past the neighbor’s Lilac tree, and it is slowly exploding with fragrant purple blossoms..I’ve also seen a few other yards recently that have the white Lilac trees blooming and those are just as pretty.
I also stumbled upon a large amount of Japanese purple Wisteria. It is so amazing! I’ve actually seen it grow in Austin just briefly in the spring and it takes me back to childhood memories and Elementary school. I went to the oldest school in Texas called Pease, and in the yard there was a Wisteria tree, a little one, with windy vines and gorgeous hanging blooms. A friend of mine used to say it smelled like –purple bubblegum–
Wisteria is growing everywhere here. It is so exciting what spring reveals. California is truly a gardener’s paradise.
Maybe it’s Lilac that marks the beginning of Spring in many places. Or perhaps it’s the sign of the first wild Iris emerging from a gravelled path that indicates Spring’s arrival. Whatever the case, lilac is blooming just down the street from me and I couldn’t be more excited about this. I am well aware of the fact that it grows as rampant weed in the upstate New York area. No one blinks an eye over this. Some might say that too much of a good thing is bad for you, but surely this can’t be the case where lilac is concerned.
I spoke with someone just today who grew up in Massachusetts and he was remembering growing up in a house that sat in front of an entire yard filled with lilac bushes. One whiff of the branch I was holding, was enough to transport him back to those days of running barefoot in the grass, playing in the mud and hiding amidst lavender lilac trees while his mother was calling him in for dinner. Some smells can do that for you, and the fragrance of lilac is so distinctive, so sweet, and wonderfully unforgettable.
It has escaped my mind that lilac also grows here in the Bay area. It makes all the sense in the world that it would because of how well it thrives in cooler sunny climates which perfectly describes spring in the Bay. And I’m sure that many others are just as excited as I am to see those wonderfully fragrant flower blooms emerging from dormant winter branches.
Lilac doesn’t grow in Texas, so one might pay about 30-40 $ for a bunch (5 or 6 stems) of lilac, imported from California or sometimes Holland. People do pay that amount for it, I remember buying it by the stem for about 8 dollars. And here it is growing in all its glory just down the street from me….Did I mention that I am excited? Well I am so excited! and I’m off to go meet my neighbors.
Bottle Brush /Callistemon is a really neat plant that grows wild here in the Bay Area.I am fascinated to discover it is native plant to Australia and New Caledonia (off coast of New Zealand) and one always wonders how it migrated to these parts… I am having a lot of fun using it in different ways. The vibrancy of the color is really visually uplifting and dramatic.
Ornithogalum/ Hyacinthaceae is another flowering species popping up everywhere right now. It grows tall in stalks and abundantly along the pathway of the hike I take in Tennessee Valley. I am previously familiar with the Star of Bethlehem variety that tends to grow much smaller with a pointy head shape, as well as the Sun Star/ Dubium type that is a wonderful shade of orange. I have handled some Ornithogalum/ Dubium with stems as thick as an Agapanthus stalk.
I put the Ornithogalum in a tall bottle. It only lasted as a cut for about 4 days.
Two other clippings I have foraged from recent walks. The hot pink rose-shaped flower is growing throughout the neighborhood. I have seen the flowers in red and light pink color. The flower heads seem to drop off the tree after blooming. You will see them scattered in the streets, sidewalks, and around the tree base. I am curious to know what this tree is, and will have to investigate further.
*Update! I have just been informed this flower is the Camellia.
Pictured with it is a lovely trailing vine I discovered on a hike. I am not sure of the name to this one but the flowers bloomed as a light pink and purple color.
I stopped off at the super Target on the way to Berkeley a few weeks ago. This store is 2 stories high and is one of the largest Target stores I’ve seen. Targets aren’t even this big in Texas (where everything is Big) and it has a Garden Center which I was really excited to become acquainted with. Icelandic Poppy plants were only $2.99 so subsequently I bought a multi-colored one, you know to go with the black flats I was also getting.
The plant had been doing quite well on the front porch, until one morning I discovered it had been flattened a bit. Either wind, rain, or possible an animal and its kin had leveled a section of the plant snapping the already delicate stems into pieces.
I salvaged the situation by floating the one of the beautiful flower heads in water. It lasted for about a week.
Yard cuttings and spring blooms everywhere.
Spring is definitely approaching.. All this rain has warranted a gorgeous amount of fresh foliage, and fresh blooms for many.
On my walks, I am delighted to see growing from many a yard, Calla lilies erect from their large soft green leaves…
Crocosmia sprouting its colors remind me of that wonderful and wild Texas Indian paintbrush that grows road side, so vibrant in oranges and red. The Large bushes of leptospermum ( Incidentally this is a word even my curious mind did not dream up)..
Lepto is from the Myrtle family and the root of the word means ’slender’, I previously enjoyed pairing it with roses or monochromatic with Hydrangea…which brings me to Hydrangea, it grows wonderfully here in California, not in my yard, but I have seen it everywhere. Giant fluffy globes of green and pink. Wonderful and happy. So many great flowers now, and most surprising of all they are so cheap in the shops!
Clearly they cost more in Texas because of freight shipping cost..Though food is more pricier here (in grocery) in California flowers are not.
Around the neighborhood also is incredible amounts of Silver bell Eucalyptus and gorgeous trees filled with the soft fuzzy lemon yellow Blooming Acaciawhich I adore with yellow and red roses, or gobs of it all alone tall…and of course fresh lemons from the neighbor’s tree.
Spontaneous hand-tied using lawn leaves tucked under, a succulent clipping (which has lived in an old bottle), sprigs of Blooming acacia (gathered from recent walk) and gorgeous red Ranunculus .
And now for the Vase arrangement..
Ranunculus are one of my favorite blooms..and they happen to be in season now. I love the bright Oranges and Pinks, and I also love White paired with White Peonies, and wild Texas grasses.. Which reminds me of the fabulous Texas grown ranunculus that would come in from the Arnosky Flower farm (located in Blanco,Texas.) They grew the most interesting colors, like Burgundy with white tips…
I generally have referred to them as the ‘Poor Man’s Peony’, because they look like a mini Peony when fully open, and usually cost (for a bunch) about the same for a single stem of Peony. The stem shape is many times curved, and it can become quite difficult to manipulate the shape (in an arrangement) without cutting them shorter… I really love to just stick bunches in a vase alone, and let them find their own space .. these are California grown purchased from Trader Joe’s.