The Jasmine and the Snowman

After working in front of a computer 40 hours the last four days, I was in desperate need of a walk.
Coat, coffee money, and a camera were found and I headed out the door.

Reading other garden blogs, I’m beginning to realize there’s no place like home.
I mean, really, there’s no place like Southern California.

This snowman was framed in an archway of jasmine, which is now in bloom all over town, but
you’ll have to take my word for it. I was nearly hit by a car trying to get both jasmine and
snowman in the frame.


You have entered the land of the overgrown houseplant.
The raw materials for a great garden are everywhere.
What would be escapees from Logee’s Greenhouse in colder climes lurk on every porch
and in every garden the year-round.

All the coveted cordylines and phormiums, agaves and succulents of every stripe, camellias and
bougainvilleas, mostly grown in a careless jumble. Aloes squished up against chainlink fence.
These may be the cosseted darlings of gardeners in single-digit zones, but here in zone 10 they
meet indifference and even abuse. Plants elsewhere prized for their structural qualities are
thoughtlessly strewn about, and gardens may sometimes seem to have more in common with
an overturned jewelry box. It can be a very disordered horticultural universe.

But everywhere is evident the fact that people seem to be compelled to grow plants, no matter how
haphazardly or with how much or little forethought, and interesting things do happen.
For example, check out what this Ficus repens is up to in this alley.


I startled a passerby by gasping out loud at the sight of a potted 8-foot tall sansieviera,
the mother-in-law tongue, seen through the window of a violin shop.

And here’s Cuphea and Salvia ‘Hot Lips’ collaborating for hedging.



Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ oblivous of his fall-blooming status in other climates.


I glanced at a New Yorker article this morning about the exotic animal species proliferating in Florida,
and the same is true for plant species in Southern California. And I don’t mean in the sense of being
overrun by exotic species, though that is sometimes the case and a genuine cause for concern. I’m
talking more in an aesthetic sense, the tumultuous confusion of bloom and leaf from all over the world.

On this half-hour walk today I found in bloom:

Abutilon, aloes, azaleas, brugmansias camellias, ceanothus, cuphea, euphorbia, euryops, hollyhock,
jasmine, justicia, lavender, rosemary, osteospermum, roses, salvias, strelitzia.

I try to look at all this plant wealth through the eyes of someone who has endured a real winter,
through plant-starved eyes, not my own that have become so accustomed to such a surfeit of
riches that it takes something more to arouse them.

And occasionally I am stopped in my tracks. Look at what someone has set in motion on their
porch with an urn and some succulents, made sublime by California’s native ceanothus now in full bloom.



More plants and people finding each other. And so it goes.


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2 Responses to The Jasmine and the Snowman

  1. We in NC have been starved for all this lush plant life. It’s been a long cold winter. But we do love the change of seasons here 🙂

  2. admin says:

    Hope spring gets there soon for you, Ginny. I love your change of seasons too!

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