It’s Spring! (in Northern California)

The snow is falling again in the Northeast, and I look out at the fading light in my garden, which is two colors: the gray of the tree trunks and branches and the white of the snow.

In San Francisco, however, though the air is chilly, spring is popping out all over. Last week, I spent a peaceful afternoon in the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. Besides the California poppies, every kind of spring-flowering tree and bulb is in bloom. The Garden is divided into collections, including the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest, Moon Viewing Garden, and Garden of Fragrance (aah, jasmines!) I loved the giant succulents, vines, and tropicals, and the little wildflowers peeking out. Here are a few of my favorite shots:



Passion Vine


At the garden shop, I was particularly taken with this mountain lilac or Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ for sale for $9. The tag said: “20 ft height and width, upright habit, very fast grower, sun, tolerates any soil; low-no water; hardy to 14-20 degrees F, 20-25-year life, light-med blue flowers 6″ spikes.” So what’s not to love about this plant? Must look for it here in Westchester nurseries. Oh-oh, tag also says: “Deer love new growth; do not plant in high deer areas; no fertilizing, soil disturbance, soil amendments. In other words, leave it to be happy in the California deserts.


Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress




VW Bus

Another genus and species (almost) native to California. This VW bus is the home office of a cartoonist who outfitted it with computer, sound systen, wi-fi. He parks it around San Francisco and enjoys the view while he works and sends emails.


About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
This entry was posted in Horticulture, Nurseries and Garden Centers, Public Gardens, Travel-California, What's Blooming Now and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to It’s Spring! (in Northern California)

  1. Pru Montgomery says:

    Dear Ellen,
    Thanks for this sneak preview of spring; very welcome in still wet and snowy Cape Cod!
    xo Pru

  2. Dear Ellen,

    I’m so grateful for this posting! I did not realize how much my eyes and spirit were craving to see new growth. This was like a synaesthetic infusion.
    Now I’ll go dig my car out of the snow here in Hastings…

    Happy Persian New Year 1394!


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