Spring anticipation

Spring is synonymous with flowers. But before they burst open in all their glory, there’s that time of waiting that I enjoy almost as much. Here’s what’s getting me excited in anticipation right now.


Dyckia ‘Burgundy Ice’ getting ready to flower for the first time


Will the flowers be yellow or orange?


Beavertail prickly pear (Opuntia basilaris) is always among the first to set buds


This year my plant has more buds than ever


I expect great things…


…much better than this


Scarlet hedgehog cactus (sold as Echinocereus octacanthus, apparently an invalid synonym for Echinocereus coccineus var.coccineus). This is first time it will bloom. The flowers should be very similar to Echinocereus triglochidiatus:

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Claret cup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus), photo taken last year


Baby Rita prickly pear (Opuntia ‘Baby Rita’), a hybrid between Opuntia basilaris and Opuntia santa-rita. This is the first time for it to bloom. What color will the flowers be? Either pink or salmon, from the photos I was able to find on the Internet.


My 17-year old sago palm (Cycas revoluta) didn’t flush last year but it looks like it might be working on a set of leaves this year. It’s not getting very much sun anymore because of the Asian lemon bamboo (Bambusa eutuldoides ‘Viridividatta’) nearby.


Aloe capitata flower stalk getting taller by the day


For comparison, here’s an Aloe capitata in full bloom at the Ruth Bancroft Garden


White Linen California poppy (Eschscholzia californica ‘White Linen’). The anticipation cycle here is very short since the flowers open and close every day. To the left is my Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue’.


Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) covered with flower buds


Soon it will look like this: Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa) in April 2012


Mexican ghost plant (Graptopetalum pentandrum subsp. superbum) with its much-branched flower stalk


Aeonium ‘Cyclops’ getting ready to bloom. It’s almost six feet tall. Too bad it will die after flowering.


Aeonium ‘Cyclops’


Aloe glauca. Usually the flowers are more on the pink side.


Bird’s nest banksia (Banksia baxterii), a relatively recent purchase from the Ruth Bancroft Garden. The leaves show some sunburn because I didn’t give it enough time to get used to the sun. But in spite of that, it appears a flower is forming right in the center. It will look like this:


Bird’s nest banksia (Banksia baxterii) photographed at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum


What would spring be without lilacs (Syringa vulgaris)! This is a cultivar called ‘Blue Skies’ that was developed for mild-winter areas. (Usually lilacs need a certain number of hours below freezing to flower.)


Soon it will look like this (photo taken in April 2011 of the same bush in our backyard)


In recent weeks I’ve gushed about this Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ I recently bought at the Ruth Bancroft Garden. But I have another leucospermum, a yellow-flowering cultivar called Leucospermum cuneiforme ‘Goldie’. It has never bloomed, but it looks like there might be buds setting. Maybe they’ll turn out to be leaves, but my anticipation is high!


My Gingko biloba ‘Sunstream’ is starting to leaf out. Will its leaves be as spectacular this year as they were last year?


Gingko biloba ‘Sunstream’ in April 2014


  1. Not long now for a full on floral explosion Gerhard, and hopefully your ginkgos will be have even better variegation this year.

    1. Ginkgo 'Sunstream' had very good variegation last year. 'Jade Butterflies' was half green, half variegated (less variegation that the year before). I'm curious to see what 2015 will hold.

  2. Some of us are still waiting for foliage... :)

    Love seeing all of the Opuntia buds!

    1. Oops, I tend to live in my little bubble and forget that spring hasn't even officially started yet.

      I'm conflicted about opuntias. I love everything about them EXCEPT their glochids and the fact that they attract scale insects like crazy, at least in my climate. It's hard to keep them looking pristine, and I don't want to resort to nasty chemicals.

  3. Great photos. Can't wait for all my flowers either.

    1. You'll have a riot of color soon. I should come by and take photos!

  4. You've got a LOT going on! I love that Gingko and I'm interested to see what the bloom on a Dyckia looks like - none of mine have ever bloomed.

    1. I've had one dyckia bloom before (see here), and it was yellow. It's a bit early to tell, but I think that 'Burgundy Ice' will have orange flowers. That's what I want!

  5. I absolutely love the plants you have!! beautiful signs of spring!!! and by the way, I´ve seen your pictures in your other blog about Australia and Tasmania and they are awesome! I hope I´ll be able to visit some day.

    1. That trip to Australia and Tasmania was a dream. I'm hoping we'll get a chance to go back soon to do the western other half of Tasmania. It's convenient having friends in Sydney :-).

  6. SPRING, ain't it grand. It is funny to see the lilac mixed in with all the exotics. My hometown, Spokane, WA, is "the lilac city"... I grew up surrounded by them.

    1. Heather and I both love lilac. It's actually one of the first things I planted in the backyard after we bought the house. Our lilac not entirely healthy--the bark is splitting and its regularly gets powdery mildew in the summer, but we'll keep it as long as we can.

  7. I especially love the ginko, and those cactuses...! They'll be incredible. I'm convinced that I've seen Claret cup (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) growing wild in the hills near me -- it's a favorite. Your ovatifolia is a stunner, too.

    1. Claret cup is endemic to Southern California (I've seen it in the wild in Joshua Tree NP) so it's very possible that you've seen it in the hills near you.

      I have three Agave ovatifolia now (how did THAT happen, LOL???) and I dearly love them.

  8. I bet orange. You have some wonderful plants there, esp. the Ginko.

    Don't count out Cyclops--the rosette may die but the stem can produce new rosettes.


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