Here's an assortment of what's in bloom this February in Topanga. All photos were taken along my morning walk in my neighborhood.
Acacia dealbata, or silver wattle, is native to Southern Australia. That may be why this tree grows in front of the home of one of my neighbors, a once-famous Australian pop star. Or maybe not, since there are many of these beautiful trees growing in Topanga, their bright yellow flower clusters like little silken balls of passementerie.
Hardenbergia violacea is a shrubby vine - or a viney shrub - that, like many of our tender-zone ornamental plants, is another native of Australia. It has drooping racemes of delicate pea-like flowers smaller than a button - they look like wee orchids on a stem. Its common name is Happy Wanderer. This one grows on my neighbor's fence, and contrasts gaudily with the orange of a hummingbird vine behind.
Centrathus ruber - also known as red valerian - is a European perennial that has escaped from gardens and naturalized throughout the U.S. It's very common in the Santa Monica Mountains, including here where it grows on the side of a steep rocky hill.
Abutilon megapotamicum is a native of Brazil, Argentina and Uraguay. It's a tender ornamental shrub, with somewhat lax and leggy growth - which makes it perfect to train against a dark wood fence where the pretty golden flowers with their lipstick-colored calyxes shine like little lanterns. The genus is called "flowering maple" for the shape of their leaves, although they aren't related to maples at all.
Calliandra haematocephala is a Bolivian ornamental shrub that blooms November - April. Calliandra species have these marvelous infloresences, bursting with bright bristly stamens, each tipped with a tiny pollen-dusted anther. They're nicknamed powder puff flowers or fairy-duster flowers.
This one grows in my front yard, in a location with dappled shade from oaks and high eucalyptus, and gets no supplemental watering at all. The plant is a bit lanky and awkward, but its scarlet bristles are cheerful and give us a pretty bit of color in February.