Ceanothus of Santa Barbara: Early spring blossoms

California lilac blooms

If you've looked up at the mountains from town lately, you may have noticed what looks like a light snowfall. How can that be? Every spring, the early-blooming ceanothus emerge, dusting our mountains with white blossoms and offering us the joy of a resplendent spring without the miseries of snow and sleet – Santa Barbara style.

White ceanothus bloom in the Santa Barbara foothills

White ceanothus blooms, captured mid-February in Mission Canyon. 

Ceanothus is one of the hearty chaparral plants which cover the steep sandstone slopes of our coastal mountains.  It's a drought tolerant California native that goes by a few different names including wild or California lilac.
If you hike up to Inspiration Point, you'll find yourself meandering through corridors lined with bright white and blue ceanothus. Breathe deep – what a divine bouquet of fragrances. Some species bloom white and others a soft blue-lilac.  It grows profusely, blanketing the hills with its own kind of olive-green carpet. If you are interested in growing ceanothus in your garden, check out this article by Carol Bornstein.

Ceanothus dusted hills in Cold Springs Canyon. January 17, 2015

And if you are as smitten with ceanothus as we are, click here to head over to our shop and get yourself a set of note cards with local artist Chris Chapman's botanical painting of a blue flowering Ceanothus.

Ceanothus stationary: botanical painting by Chris Chapman

Ceanothus stationary: botanical painting by Chris Chapman

Of course, spring has arrived downtown, too, with white evergreen pears everywhere. And all those bulbs, thoughtfully tucked away last fall by loving gardeners, are now emerging as tulips, daffodils and so much more.