Spring comes early in Las Vegas and it comes suddenly, usually with bursts of wind. We had a few days of warm weather and everything started blooming. These are ornamental plum trees which lose their purple leaves in the winter and bloom in the spring. Because of its dark foliage and contrasting colorful flowers, the ornamental plum (Prunus cerisifera) is one of the most popular trees used in landscaping in Las Vegas. The deep purple leaves add an accent to predominantly green landscapes and catch the eye all over town.
In our little neighborhood these trees line the walking paths.
Up close you can see the pink flowers and the first of the dark red leaves.
Around Las Vegas we use rosemary as an ornamental plant, for hedges. Because it grows rapidly and requires little water, you can see it almost everywhere. In the spring and fall it flowers with these pretty blue flowers.
The bees love the rosemary and this time of year the blue flowers are covered with them, happily slurping up the rosemary nectar. Rosemary honey is a natural for us, since we have tons of rosemary and I usually get a large container of honey in the spring and put several sprigs of rosemary to marinate for a few months. Great for cooking or just plain eating. Luberon, France is known in culinary circles for producing the most famous rosemary honey in the world. The recipe for this renowned artisan honey has been handed down from generation to generation by one particular family who lives in the Luberon National Park located in the South of France.
As much as the bees like the rosemary blooms, the butterflies are in love with the Carolina Cherry Laural (Prunus caroliniana). This is a native of the southern and western US and blooms in Las Vegas at the end of February to the beginning of March. We have literally hundreds of butterflies covering the fragrant white flowers on 2-3 inch long stalked bunches of four large trees in our backyard.
The fruit which comes later is poisonous to people but sustains the birds all summer long.
My fruit trees also come out in bloom, beginning with the peach tree. The blossoms aren't as plentiful and they are small but this tree produces 3-4 bushels of peaches every spring.
These come out so early, along with leaves, that the spring crop is sometimes wiped out by a late cold snap.
I also have a green granny apple tree that blossoms next and these blossoms persevere even with a mild cold snap.
I personally love these pretty white flowers with their delicate pink buds.
I have a fruit bearing plum as well with slightly different white blossoms. These are very sensitive to cold so I have not had many plums in the past.
For the past few years I have been planting bulbs in the fall, just to get some perennial spring color. This is the first purple hyacinth of the season.
Desert Cassia plants (Cassia nemophila Walp) bloom in Las Vegas from about January to April or late winter to early spring. They are a small bush with light green needles for leaves. The flowers don't have much scent but the bees seem to like these as well. This plant is part of the legume (beans and peas) family.
Another yellow flower that comes out in the spring and fall (actually blooms all year, but heat and cold inhibit blooming) is the Yellow Daisy Bush (Euryops pectinatus). This plant comes originally from South Africa and does well in the heat although in Las Vegas we are right on the edge of its range for cold and they die in the winter sometimes.
Color in the garden doesn't always have to come from flowers. Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), taking its name from slender, upright stems and bamboolike leaves, is actually a barberry family shrub. It stands from 3 to 8 feet high and up to 4 feet wide. We have two in the front yard. Heavenly bamboo's foliage progresses from coppery-green in spring to green in summer and purple-red in fall. It gets white flowers in the summer. Bunches of red berries replace the blooms, remaining on the bush from fall until the following spring.
Pyracantha, also called Firethorn, is a member of the Rosaceae (rose) family and grows well in the climate of the Vegas Valley. Firethorns are evergreen shrubs with shiny leaves. Blooming occurs in late spring or early summer in masses of small white fragrant flowers. From October to March the most attractive feature of them are the masses of red berries. In Las Vegas we use these plants for holiday decorations.
The Japanese Blueberry (Elaeocarpus decipiens) also makes a few little blueberries in the spring.
I have two Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) trees in my garden and while the flowers, starting in November to December, are a little funky, the fruit is a short lived delicacy rarely seen in stores. Loquats actually originate in China, but interestingly, they are also known as the Japanese Medlar or Japanese Plum. Loquats are called “biwa” in Japan, in Italian, Loquats are called Nespole Giaponesse. In Las Vegas, the fruit comes in March to April, every other year.
Also known as the May apple, the Loquat season is short, and most people never get a chance to taste them. The flavor is a blend of apricot, plum, and cherry, with floral overtones, and is quite sweet when ripe. If you like peaches, apricots, and plums, you'll love Loquats.
Well, I am going to wrap up here, it is currently 80 degrees F in Las Vegas. Unfortunately in Paris, where we just arrived, it is 30 degrees F and snowing, much like most of the eastern United States. We came to see the spring in Paris, I will let you know when it arrives.