The recent rains and floods here in California have produced a spectacular scenery of greenery. The Los Angeles boulevards are ablaze with orange, purple, blue, lilac and pink. The dazzling array of rainbow blossom and flowers put the mighty English Oak in the shade. Yes, we have our pretty cherry blossoms in the Spring and our conkers in the Autumn but here in Los Angeles grows a veritable cornucopia of lushness and floral abundance.
The Bird of Paradise is the official flower of Los Angeles. The silky orange sorbet and vibrant blue flower is native to South Africa but the argument for making it the official flower for LA is that as the city is a melting pot of cultures, why not import a flower too.
The official tree is the subtropical coral tree. They are fragile and their limbs break easily but their bright orange and strangely-shaped flowers are stunning. The town of Brentwood has a Coral Tree Endowment Fund to protect them. Apparently their seeds are extremely buoyant and have the ability to float for up to one year and are so hard they pass whole through animal and bird digestive tracts. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to coral tress because of their loud colours and striking scent.
The tree I particularly like is the Jacaranda Tree. The blue/lilac colour is incredible. Los Angelenos have a love/hate relationship with them. Yes, they are mighty pretty, but they are also mighty sticky and mess up your car if you park underneath one.
In 1933, following a Jacaranda festival to find ‘the most beautiful blue in all the world’, the city forester declared the Jacaranda the most exotic tree in Los Angeles. It has two outstanding features: its unparalleled blue trumpet flowers in clusters and its finely cut fern-like dark green foliage. But the purple splendour doesn’t appeal to everyone here. Many residents complain about the sticky ooze littering their patios and choking their spa filters!
The desert blooms this year are outstanding – again due to the large amount of desperately needed rainwater California has received this year. With the desert blooms come the rattlesnakes, but apparently not enough to prevent the eager crowds from flattening California’s vibrant ‘super bloom’. This eruption of flora has drawn a stream of admiring visitors this year – literally thousands are going off-trail and tramping over the swathes of bright red, orange, yellow and purple looking for that perfect shot for their Instagram accounts.
Personally, I’m thrilled to see Los Angeles is not all concrete rivers, automobiles and palm trees. Apart from the floral magnificence, the fragrance of Cali in the Spring is overpowering. Bad for hay fever sufferers possibly but a treat for the visually impassioned. Totally stunning.