|Typical Palm Springs skyline - these are Washingtonia robusta, the Mexican fan palm|
One of the most familiar trees and a Californian native, is the Palo Verde (Parkinsonia florida), a wide spreading tree with soft green bark that erupts in a profusion of delicate yellow blossom in spring. My all time favourite out here is the Jacaranda tree, a native of South America. In late spring it produces spikes of vivid blue flowers, at a distance like huge hyacinths, dancing on the bare branches. Blue is such a valuable colour in the landscape. The orchid trees, various different species of Bauhinia come from India and China but grow easily here with warmth and irrigation. Flowers are mainly pink but there are some white too. In spring they are as common as flowering cherries back in the UK.
|Palo verde underplanted with Agave desmettiana|
|Jacaranda mimosaefolia - it drops its leaves in late winter before flowering|
|Bauhinia variegata (probably) referring to the two-toned flowers not leaves|
Bottle brush plants are known to most gardeners for their vivid red bristly spikes. Callistemon viminalis makes a small tree with weeping branches and cascades of scarlet bottlebrushes in late winter. There are various Acacia species that thrive in the desert heat. I rather like A. saligna, the willow leafed acacia and also A. smallii which is a compact tree and starts to bloom in late winter. The Texas mountain laurel, Sophora secundiflora is a large shrub or small tree that bears exquisite clusters of flowers that at a glance look like wistaria. Most of these flower too late for me to appreciate them as I have to return to the UK before their peak.
Schinus molle is an evergreen foliage tree with delicate foliage and pink fruits with the common name of Peruvian pepper. The fruits are often preserved and sold with ordinary peppercorns for their vivid colour. Some people say it has little flavour but I've seen it used by fancy cooks in programs such as Masterchef.
One of the most odd looking trees here is Ficus elastica which the more mature readers will recall as the ubiquitous 60's rubber plant, grown in every fashionable household at the time. Here in the desert, it makes a very bold tree with huge leaves, creating dense shade. Olives grow vigorously and are usually pruned heavily, in part to remove the fruiting branches and the resulting mess on footpaths. A non-fruiting selection called 'Swan Hill' is somtimes planted.
|I love the gnarled trunk and root bases of old olive trees|
The mesquites, species of Prosopis grow fast here, rapidly providing shade where needed. I wouldn't particularly include them but a specimen of this is overhanging our new garden. Its large, leans on the wall and blocks the view of the mountains. I find myself torn as to whether to enjoy its green foliage, at least while the garden is in the making or request its removal before it pushes the wall down. What do you folks think?
|Prosopis chilensis or velutina at the side of our new yard|
|And the potential view if the tree went!|