After the Jacaranda: Agapanthus Time

Late spring's other purple beauty is doing its fireworks-fabulous thing.

Roses get a lot of deserved attention as a famous Southern California flower — we do, after all, host a certain parade each New Year's Day 'round about Pasadena — while several other flowering plants, from bougainvilleas to the Bird-of-Paradise, deservedly bask in local love.

But only one bloom scores high on the stop-and-gape scale when May Grey and June Gloom rolls into town: the purple buds of the jacaranda tree.

That too-short show has pretty much bid its annual adieu for 2016. And while many jacaranda-obsessed Southern Californians are feeling blue (or perhaps purple) at their favorite flowering tree ending its yearly show, there is another regional favorite be-purpling yards across the region.

It's the agapanthus, which technically comes in both white and purple, and several shades of both. Some might claim its flowers aren't quite as spectacular as the jacaranda, which can shower its pretty purpleness onto passers-by, but others would disagree.

The agapanthus is, after all, the most fireworks-y of flowers, in shape and spirit.

The season for these floral fireworks, however, is soon to wain, though they're still nicely blooming at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. 

And, of course, in yards across the region. Lavishly so.


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The long-stemmed perennials are not solely a Southern California sight, as they hail from Southern Africa and thrives in many spots, from Mexico to Australia. Like the jacaranda, the agapanthus is an international jet-setter that has put down lasting roots in LA as well as other points around the globe.

Three questions remain, however...

1) Is the agapanthus more magnificent in its full blooms-in-every-direction form? Or right before it bursts, when all of the tiny flowers are tightly coiled and easy to see through a thin skin?

2) Could the color of an agapanthus be said to be more of a blue-purple, or even a sky blue? It might be an eye of the beholder thing, while simultaneously saving the purple flower crown for the jacaranda tree.

And 3): In the pantheon of SoCal springtime purple flowers, will the wisteria vine, which is first out of the gate each year, even before jacarandas and agapanthuses, get its purply due? 

The short and the long (stem) of it is this: Southern California is home to many hue-packed petals come April, May, and June. 

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