We had a spell of warm dry weather for a couple of weeks, and all of a sudden blooms started popping up everywhere. It was heart-warming to see so much beauty so early in the year. Please join me on a little walk through the neighborhood and look at what is happening in the gardens around me.
This area is located at the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains which provide a dreamy evergreen backdrop to the well-tended gardens.
Like much of California, the climate here is Mediterranean with dry hot summers and mild rainy winters.
In fact, at the turn of the century, after a prestigious British medical journal recommended this area as having "the most equitable climate in the world", doctors sent tuberculosis patients here in the hopes of prolonging their lives.
I am glad that some of the "old age" look is still present. Mature plantings (even if a bit overgrown) are a lovely sight, and not too common: it seems that whenever houses change hands, a new owner starts out by removing the plants chosen by someone else before him.
The pressure to conform is ever present, so it is a welcome surprise to come upon a garden that looks so different from everybody else's: indeed, why have a lawn when you can grow weeds? And so beautiful too, like this garden full of bermuda buttercups (buttercup oxalis),...
...which go so well with flowering quince.
As the area's primary business gradually changed from farming and orchard-growing to high tech, the interest in maintaining a garden dwindled. Neighborhoods with creative and carefully-tended landscaping are by no means ubiquitous. And so when I find myself in such a place, I always try to spend some time walking around, and catching a glimpse of scenes like this one, of a serendipitous and fleeting harmony of color created by an ornamental pear against a neighbor's blue house...
...or a welcoming staircase nicely shaded by a mix of pink and red camellias...
...or an old, overplanted and a bit untidy garden with a huge red camellia and a rambling hardenbergia vine getting over into the neighbor's yard.
I hope this neighborhood will stay unchanged for a long time and maintain its sense of history and tradition, in gardening as much as in everything else.