Santa Barbara is awash with white blooms, the early spring explosions of the evergreen pear.
When The Santa Barbara Company acquired the building at 214 East Victoria two years ago, we took on major restoration. The house itself needed ample work to restore its original charm. At that time, the front garden consisted just of a few heaps of succulents. As we filled out the gaps, we chose plants for their drought resistance and their cottage garden style. The color palette was determined by our new paint palette, pale green with white trim and deep terracotta accents for the porch columns.
A winter without rain. Drought is a word that clutches at the heart.
In many places, 2013 was the driest on record. Less than an inch fell in December 2012, and none in January, 2013. The last significant month of rain and snow was December 12, 2012. In most places, 2013 was the driest on record. Less than an inch fell in December 2012, and none in January, 2013. The last significant month of rain and snow was December 12, 2012.
Each holiday seems to have certain colors associated with it. For Easter, it’s the pastel colors – spring greens, pale yellows, pinks, and lavenders. At Thanksgiving we think of golds and oranges – the colors of turning leaves.
Christmas is unabashedly red – intense red – the right color to warm us at this time of year when nights are long and dark.
Looking up at the stony face of the Santa Ynez Mountains, one sometimes gets the impression that the mountains are impenetrable. But studying a good map, you see that there are several canyons which provide access, at least into the foothills. They bear such names as Rattlesnake, Sycamore, Cold Springs – narrow canyons each with its own trail and stream which continue to carve out ever- deepening canyons.
The most important of all of them is Mission Canyon with its stream, Mission Creek. Unlike smaller streams, it runs year-round. And rather than hiking up an arduous trail, there’s a road that provides easy access by car.
Look for the signs directing you to the 72-acre Santa Barbara Botanic Garden which is devoted exclusively to the native plants of California.
October arrives subtly in Santa Barbara with the soft golds of our native sycamores (Platanus racemosa). How to describe this tree that most often grows along streams? Eccentric, unsymmetrical, picturesque – all words apply, but we prefer to think of this tree as a species of uncommon beauty.
What better way to announce the spring wildflower season than with the golden poppy. They seem to appear everywhere – out of cracks in the pavement, along roadsides. In some places they carpet entire hillsides. The Spaniards called them “Capo del Oro.” In our benign climate, poppies seem to bloom somewhere almost year-round, but reach their finest moment each spring.
Artist Patti Jacquemain's woodblock print featuring blooming California Poppies.
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.
Called the Christmas berry, Toyon is certainly one of California's most beautiful shrubs. Its red berries are a dazzling addition to our warm holiday season.
Bougainvillea is not a name you should say softly. Any plant with flowers as garish, brilliant, fluorescent, strident – the adjectives go on and on – should have its name shouted out. And no plant epitomizes Santa Barbara like bougainvillea.