Most Fragrant Season in California

A short period of about three to four weeks in early spring (the length is dependent on the weather) is my favorite season in Northern California; it is also the most fragrant season. It is orange-blossom season! Well, it is actually citrus-blossom season but that just does not have the same ring.

In late winter and early spring, all the effort and time to wrap my citrus trees on cold nights to withstand the few hours a night of temperatures close to freezing are finally paying off as the the first trees start to bloom and envelope the backyard in their potent, sweet smell.

Covered Orange Tree

The daily ritual before cooler winter nights – swaddling the citrus trees in tarps and blankets. Once they are taller than 7 feet, the endeavor becomes quite challenging.

The fragrance is hard to describe, and none of the scents captured in bottles ever come close to the real thing; the smell is sweet and potent, even stronger at night, and very different from the smell of an orange fruit or peel. In my backyard, the limes and mandarins bloom first, then come the grapefruit trees, and last but not least the orange trees that seem to do double duty by still carrying some fruit while already blooming and working on this year’s crop.

Blossoms

Close-up of Blossoms

The white, star-shaped flowers attract honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the backyard, and at times “air traffic” becomes too busy for me to sit nearby.

Sure, the golden-orange California poppies cover the hillsides in spring and acres and acres of almond trees blossom in the Central Valley, but nothing is quite as impressive as the aroma of orange blossoms. Walk through the suburbs or through downtown, and you are sure to catch a whiff of the sweet smell every couple of hundred feet or so. This is the most fragrant time of the year in California and nothing quite compares for me.

PS: Last spring came close to this experience as  I spent a weekend in Sorrento, Italy and on Capri, where I was  embraced by the fragrance of lemon blossoms every corner I turned (and that might be the reason why I enjoyed that trip so much).

Thanksgiving Alfresco and “Stray” Aliens in California

Another November in Northern California, and another reminder how amazing the weather is here. While I see postings about European Christmas markets opening up and about snow angels in the northern parts of the US, I am able to have Thanksgiving dinner outside. Sure, we are not quite as lucky as those in Southern California and still need a jacket once the shadows get longer and the sun sets, but it is still unfathomable to me that I can actually sit outside for hours and be comfortable at the end of November.

Oranges

Abundance: Under an Orange Tree

Tee by the Fire

Tea by the Fire Pit

 

Even though I do not have a close connection to Thanksgiving since I did not grow up with this tradition, I have become rather fond of this holiday by now; what is there not to like when it is mostly about giving thanks and of course food – and more food – and then even more food.

Turkey on BBQ

Turkey on the BBQ

Pie Buffet

Pie Buffet: Banana, Pecan, Blueberry, Apple, and Pumpkin (under the Glass)

Even though some dishes are traditional and expected at Thanksgiving, most families also seem to include at least one dish connected to their ancestors; American Italians, for example, seem to serve ravioli, and our Thanksgiving dinner included sauerkraut and Polish sausages.

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Sauerkraut and Polish Sausages

As a foreigner/alien without a large family nearby, I have been invited for several years now by American friends that lay out one of the largest spread for the dinner (made from scratch). All I need to do is show up, bring appetite, and take leftovers home (and I don’t even need to bring any boxes for the leftovers). I jokingly observed that I have been taken in like a stray kitten, and like with any stray cat, once fed, I am hard to get rid off and come back again and again.

 

Over the years as I moved from country to country and continent to continent, I have often been invited to share holiday traditions and meals with locals. Thank you to all those who take in those “stray” aliens without family nearby during holidays.

 

A 51st State in the U.S.?

Driving through the Sierra Foothills over the last few weeks, I have noticed several green signs and banners in fields, along fences, and on the sides of barns that mention a State of Jefferson. Usually, these types of signs along roads and in front yards spring up like mushrooms during election season, but it is still too early for that. Also, the signs were bigger than the usual political support. So I was intrigued. What is the State of Jefferson and how come I have not seen these signs in other areas?

 

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Signs around Northern California for a New State

The idea of a State of Jefferson is not new it seems and has been proposed several times before (for the first time in 1852) but has never come to its full fruition. The goal it seems is to create the 51st State of the Union by combining the northern counties of California (and also the southern counties of Oregon) and create a new state; the main purpose is to become independent from California. The issue is the lack of representation of the North’s interests as well as the high deficit and high taxes in the current state of California. Becoming an independent state would mean what is now just a region would have its own two U.S. senators and Congressional representatives, a governor, and a state senate.

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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson (1800) by Rembrandt Peale; White House Art Collection

The name for the new state is connected to President Thomas Jefferson, who sent the Lewis and Clark expedition West and envisioned an independent nation there. Thus, his name is associated with the idea of regional autonomy. The signs already show the seal of the proposed new state: the yellow circle is actually a gold mining pan, and the double cross refers to the sense of abandonment from the state government as the region feels it has been “double-crossed.” For me the signs illustrate the American pioneering spirit that I have heard so much about before I moved here; Americans, especially those in the (rural) West, are willing to explore new ideas and try out new things. I doubt that this 51st state will ever come into existence, but it would be interesting to be in the midst of a “velvet revolution” and watch a new state being born.

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Sutter Mill in Northern California (1850) – photo from the U.S. Library of Congress

PS: The topic is now also showing up in the local media more; see this editorial for example: Editorial in the Amador Ledger Dispatch

Rescue

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Rescue School

On a lazy Sunday drive through the Sierra Foothills, the sign of the Rescue School with the pouty but determined Viking warrior made me smile and stop. I was wondering whether this was a school where rescuing is taught in the same way as music is taught in music school, art in art school, and dance in dance school. But the school property looked a lot like any regular American school. Without noticing, I had left the larger area of Shingle Springs behind and had entered the small, unincorporated community of Rescue, CA. The school is not teaching rescue after all.

4,461 people live in Rescue according to the Rescue Historical Society, and it was officially recognized when the Rescue post office was established in 1895. Rescue’s location on the road between Coloma and Sacramento meant that it was on an important pathway during the Gold Rush.

Rescue Store and Post Office, 1916 (found on the site of the Rescue Historical Society)

As is easily the case in Northern California, I also came across a winery, which I thought was in Rescue. I immediately liked Rescue even more – rolling hills, entertaining name, little traffic, and a winery! What else could one ask for in a town? But Cielo Estate Winery seems to be just beyond the borders of Rescue as its official address lists Shingle Springs. But looking at the map of the surrounding area revealed an even more entertaining name – Cool, CA. How cool would it be to use the address of Cool, CA (ok, I guess I am easily entertained)! At least, I have a new destination for a Sunday drive to explore, and I am sure there will be wine tastings on the way. One can always count on that in Northern California.

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View Near Rescue, CA (from the Cielo Winery)

$20-Million Price Tag

Fake Fire Place Outdoors

Fake Fire Place Outdoors

Sometimes I wonder how some stores manage to stay in business since they do not seem to sell anything that many customers would want or need. Plenty of these stores sell knickknacks/tchotchkes that are not old enough or rare enough to be considered collectibles and definitely not practical or needed. I came across one of these stores in Elk Grove, California. The store was called Byblos Art & Garden and most of its ware was outside to browse: large fireplace surrounds that seem to be scaled for large ballrooms in old castles (which are rare here), plenty of the same copies of Venus statues and lion heads but in a variety of colors from bright blue to shocking pink, and large copies of classic paintings.

Large Outdoor Painting

Large Outdoor Painting

The store also included a large coop of doves and a rusted sports car although it was not clear whether either or both were for sale.

The lion head was for sale, but it was not clear why the doves were there.

The lion head was for sale, but it was not clear why the doves were there.

Old Car and Statues of Saints

Old Car and Statues of Saints

In the back corner of the yard was what seemed to be the run-down buildings of a train set with an astounding price tag, and maybe that was the answer to the question of how stores like this one stay alive – just one sale of an item like this one would keep the store afloat for years.

With prices like this one, I guess one sale is enough o make a huge profit.

With prices like this one, I guess one sale is enough o make a huge profit.

Or maybe there is a bigger demand for oversized fireplace surrounds that seem to come from the set of a play than I have ever realized.

Look Out for Rattlesnakes and Bigfoot

More warnings about rattlesnakes - this one in a park.

More warnings about rattlesnakes – this one in a park.

The fauna in Northern California has plenty of members that I am not used to from Austria and they still seem exotic to me; skunks, raccoons, and possums might be a normal sight in most American backyards, but I still get excited when I see a skunk with its tail held high cross the street in front of me or see a raccoon slip into the opening of a storm drain or watch a possum pause on its path atop the garden fence when I am out walking the dog. Coyotes, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes are a little less frequently out in the open but definitely part of the neighborhood.

Rattlesnake Warning Sign on the College Campus

Rattlesnake Warning Sign on the College Campus

Signs warning of rattlesnakes or mountain lions do exist but I came across a sign that warned not only of the expected animals but also of Bigfoot (see bottom of the sign).

The Sierra Foothills are home to all kinds of creatures - including Bigfoot it seems (see bottom of the sign).

The Sierra Foothills are home to all kinds of creatures – including Bigfoot it seems (see bottom of the sign).

I saw this sign on a college campus on the path from the parking lot to the lecture halls. I am not sure if the people who approved the sign had a great sense of humor or whether the sign slipped through without catching someone’s attention before it was approved and installed. It definitely made me chuckle and curious to come back to see more of the local wildlife.

Brown over Green

Azure Skies and Golden Hills

Azure skies over golden hills in late summer in Northern California

Even though we received a little bit of rain in California this week, the rainy season – if it even comes this year – is still several weeks away. In the meantime, I have gotten used to the golden hills as well as the brown front lawns. When I see pictures of people outside in the Midwest or in Europe, I am always surprised by the green grass in the photos; it seems fake, unrealistic, and just flat out odd. The color just does not feel right; grass is not meant to be green after May.

Signs explain why front yards are no longer artificially green.

Signs explain why front yards are no longer artificially green.

I have not only become used to the grass turning golden but actually have started to appreciate the view. Azure, royal-blue skies are stretching over golden hills dotted with the dark green boughs of California oaks – this is the view that for me beats all the green rolling hills that I have been accustomed to in the past in Europe. And even if we do receive enough rain this winter to end the California drought, I know that I can look forward to golden hills glistening in the sun in this Mediterranean climate come May.

The grass starts to turn brown in late spring in California.

The grass starts to turn brown in late spring in California.

Best of Amador Wine Country in Northern California

Amador Wine Country in Spring

Amador Wine Country in Spring

Before I moved to Northern California, I did not know much about wine and I did not drink much wine. All that has changed since moving to an area that is surrounded by wineries. Sure, the famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions are nearby and I have visited plenty of times, but I have also been turned off by high tasting fees, traffic gridlocks on weekends, and too many people trying to find a spot in the tasting rooms. I might have never become an oenophile or visited a winery at least once a month had I not come across the much more relaxed and less pretentious Amador County wine region where plenty of wineries still do not ask for a tasting fee (there are exceptions and I avoid them on principle) and where you can still be served by the actual wine maker and not just a person who gets paid to pour wine.

The Amador Vintners include 39 wineries (but more are added every season it seems), and I have visited 33 out of these and many of them more than once. So I feel that I am familiar enough with the region and its wine to create a best-of list. If you have not been to this region before, I highly recommend you visit and hopefully this list provides a good starting point.

Best Red Wine: Jeff Runquist Wines hands down; I have never come across a red wine that I do not like at this winery, and even though it may sound like I drink pretty much anything based on the many winery visits, this is not the case; there are plenty of wines at other wineries that I do not like. Runquist has also won its share of medals and awards to show that I am not the only one who likes its reds.

Wine Barrels at Runquist

Wine Barrels at Runquist

Best White Wine: Bella Grace Winery – Often white wine in the States and especially in hot regions is too sweet for me, but these whites are on the dry side. I even like the Chardonnay although I usually avoid American Chardonnay by all means, but this one is not “buttery” and that is a good trait in my book.

Wine at the Summer Concert at Bella Grace

Wine at the Summer Concert at Bella Grace

Best Sparking Wine: This is a tie since once again the region is not perfect for sparkling wine and the sparkling wine produced is often too sweet. I like the sparkling wine at Bella Grace Winery and at Andis Wines (even though I avoid Andis because of the tasting fee – why pay for what you can have free at a place that is just as good if not better).

But wine tasting trips are about more than just the wine itself:

Best Picnic Spot and Bocce Court at a Winery: Il Gioiello Winery is a little off the beaten path but has the nicest outdoor areas and bocce courts. We often spend the whole afternoon here; bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine, hang out in the hammock and/or start a bocce match. This is a relaxing spot with a fantastic view that reminds me of Tuscany.

Watching a Match on the Bocce Court from the Hammock at Il Gioiello

Watching a Match on the Bocce Court from the Hammock at Il Gioiello

Best Supposedly Haunted Winery: Bella Grace Winery has two locations: a wine cave in the hills by Plymouth and a tasting room about 20 minutes away in an 1860-era house on main street in Sutter Creek. Supposedly, the house is haunted and some say they see the ghost in the bathroom, but I have never seen it/him. The tasting room is open seven days a week though and offers summer concerts with food in the backyard on Friday nights and those are reasons enough to visit even if you do not meet the ghost.

Summer Concert at Bella Grace in Sutter Creek

Summer Concert at Bella Grace in Sutter Creek

Best Coffee and Snacks: Andrea’s Bakery in Amador City offers amazing bread, cookies, and cakes. At some point, I have to take a break from wine tasting, and this bakery provides everything I need for an afternoon tea/coffee break and snack. The bakery provides the bread that is offered for free at the tastings at Jeff Runquist Wines, which earns the winery the spot for best bread and cheese with your wine tasting.

Summer Evening at Bella Grace in Sutter Creek, CA

Summer Evening at Bella Grace in Sutter Creek, CA

Best Lunch or Dinner Spot: Hotel Sutter in Plymouth offers a full bar with a hamburger menu as well as a sit-down restaurant for lunch and dinner. The large sliding glass doors to the main street are wide open during summer, and this is a great place to eat, drink, and watch people walking past in this little town that calls itself the jewel of the Mother Lode, Sutter Creek.

Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek

Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek

Best Ice Cream: Ice Cream Emporium in Sutter Creek is open till 8 pm even on a Sunday night and thus a great place to pick up a sweet treat for the summer concerts at Bella Grace on Friday nights. Personal favorite ice cream flavors are chocolate and peanut butter cup.

Ice Cream Emporium in Sutter Creek

Ice Cream Emporium in Sutter Creek

Best Photo Opportunity with a Dog: Vino Noceto has a great Sangiovese but is even more memorable for its large bust of a dachshund. The statue was once outside a Doggie Diner but is now in the parking lot of this winery. If you are curious about how the winery ended up with the large head of a dog, read the story here.

Doggie Diner Bust at Vino Nocetto in Plymouth, CA

Doggie Diner Bust at Vino Noceto in Plymouth, CA

Most Attractive Wine Label Design: Drytown Cellars sports the winery’s century-old barn on one of my favorite labels; it is not too corny or too modern, but just right to celebrate Amador’s scenic views.

Label of Drytown Cellars, in Drytown, CA

Label of Drytown Cellars, in Drytown, CA

Best Brewery: Amador Brewing Company in Plymouth offers a change from wine tasting.

Amador County is definitely my favorite Northern-Californian wine country, but I still have only scratched the surface of other nearby wine regions such as Fairplay, Placer County, Clarksburg, and Lodi – so many wineries still to go before I feel I am qualified to create a best-of list for these regions (oh well, someone has to make this sacrifice I guess).

View from the Tasting Room at Il Gioiello Winery

View from the Tasting Room at Il Gioiello Winery

Wild Side

Turkeys in the Driveway

Turkeys in the Driveway

The drought in California in combination with urban sprawl has forced many wild animals to venture into suburban streets and backyards even in broad daylight. Recently, a neighbor found a rattlesnake in the flower bed of her front yard (I was wearing flipflops and thus was too chicken to get up close and take a picture), another neighbor chased a raccoon onto the roof of a shed, and at night we can hear coyote howl.

Raccoon

Raccoon

We have seen turkeys, deer, and mountain lions in the underbrush along the river behind our house, but now the turkeys have also decided to walk up and down our street in broad daylight. Last week, I came home to a flock of turkeys marching through our front yard and hanging out in the neighbor’s driveway. They did not mind me stopping the car to take some pictures, but when I got out and tried to get closer, they moved on without much alarm. They seemed to be used to city life as they stayed on the sidewalk or in front yards all the way down the street.

Flock of Turkeys in Suburbia

Flock of Turkeys in Suburbia

I am always excited and entertained when I see wild animals that I am not used to from Europe, and that includes turkeys. I usually have to smile when I smell a skunk (but I have been told that I would no longer find skunks amusing once I get sprayed by one, which has not happened yet), I and am happy to see that the neighborhood possum is still around and traveling atop the backyard privacy fence to avoid the dogs.

Possum

Possum

Turkeys Usually Stay Hidden

Turkeys Usually Stay Hidden in the Undeveloped Areas by the River

Red, Green, and Blue: Sequoias

Red Bark of the Sequoias

Red Bark of the Sequoias

While the red, white, and blue of the American flag dominated the decorations around the 4th-of-July weekend, the color scheme in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park was dominated by the red of the bark of the sequoias, the green of the dark needles, and the blue of the clear California summer sky. The state park is home to the giant sequoias (also called sierra redwoods), which are the largest living things ever to exist on the earth according to the state park brochure. The trees can reach a height of 325 feet, or 99 meters, and a diameter of 33 feet, or ten meters, and some of the trees in the park are believed to be 2,000 years old but they can live over 3,000 years. At first, the trees do not seem that large from the distance, but stand next to a tree, and the size becomes a lot more obvious.

Hugging a Giant Tree in the State Park

Hugging a Giant Tree in the State Park

The grove of trees in this park was first noticed by Euro-Americans in 1852 by accident. Augustus Dowd chased a grizzly bear on a hunt and came across the large trees in an unfamiliar part of the forest. His stories about the size of the trees was at first ignored as a tall tale, and since it seemed too unbelievable,  one of the large trees, the Discovery Tree, was cut down, which took 22 days, and shipped to San Francisco and New York to be put on display. Even then, many did not believe the size.

The Stump that Is Left of the Discovery Tree (found on http://www.parks.ca.gov)

Two Trees (

Two Trees (“Mother and Son”) Growing Close to Each Other and Damaged by Fire

The trees quickly became a popular setting for photographers, and most of the large trees have been given names: Empire State, the largest tree in the park, The Siamese Twins, Mother and Son, Father of the Forest, Abraham Lincoln, Mother of the Forest, The Three Graces. The tree called Father of the Forest fell long before the 19th century but is still a favorite for photos of visitors walking through its trunk or poking their heads through the holes where the branches grew.

Early Photo of Father of Forest that Fell Before Euro-Americans Discovered the Grove

Early Photo of Father of the Forest that Fell Before Euro-Americans Discovered the Grove (on display in the park)

The trees are actually quite odd looking: spiral growth, a wide base that does not get much narrower and can still be 16 feet (5 meters) in diameter 48 feet (14 meters) above ground, branches only high above the ground, and fibrous bark. These traits are also the reason why the trees grow so old and live through forest fires: they are stable and other burning trees just roll off them when they fall against the sequoias.

Spiral-Growth and Large Branches of Sequoia

Spiral-Growth and Large Branches of Sequoia

After the sheer size, the red bark is the most unusual detail about the trees; it does not feel like the bark of a “typical” tree – it is soft, and fibrous/hairy, and feels more like the skin of an animal. I have never touched an elephant, but I imagine its skin would feel like the bark of the sequoias. The bark does not burn easily because of the lack of flammable pitch and the high amounts of tannin. Nevertheless, many trees have fire scares that are now in the process as healing as the bark is growing over the wound.

Close-up of Soft, Fibrous Bark

Close-up of Soft, Fibrous Bark

Fire Scar in Process of Healing

Fire Scar in Process of Healing

John Muir once declared that “Skinning this tree alive is as sensible a scheme as skinning our great men…,” and still the trees have been skinned and tunnels have been carved out. The Pioneer Cabin Tree is still alive despite the large cut.

Tunnel through the Pioneer Cabin Tree (found on: http://www.park.ca.gov)

The state park is near Arnold on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, about 2 hours southeast of Sacramento. The park’s most popular walk through the North Grove is easy and short but also very busy with visitors especially on the weekends. Some of the famous site such as the big stump and the tree tunnel were difficult to photograph without all the visitors, so I actually relied on the photos provided by the park. I would recommend visiting during the week in summer and/or add another walk or hike to your visit to enjoy the trees without the masses.

View over Sierra Nevada

View over Sierra Nevada

Barn Decorated for 4th of July in San Andreas

Barn Decorated for 4th of July in San Andreas on the Way to the Park

Beef Sticker

Eat Beef Sticker

Eat Beef Sticker

I came across the above sticker at the regional county fair outside the rodeo arena. The stand promoted eating beef and most likely was associated with a beef association/council since the saying “Eat Beef – The West Wasn’t Won on Salad” is usually contributed to a beef association in the West. The saying for me does conjure images of weary cowboys driving cattle over miles of grass land and resting by a camp fire after a long day and then eating beef chilli. But the more I think I about the slogan, the less sense it makes: Who would ever claim that salad was at all involved in winning the West so why contradict this? Was the West really WON? And if yes, by whom? And winning goes hand in hand with losing – so who lost the West and do you really want to point out that someone lost it in this slogan?

Maybe I am overthinking a rather straightforward slogan, but I am also surprised that such campaigns/slogans supposedly work or at least are meant to convince someone. I love eating beef (I also do not mind salads with the exception of iceberg lettuce) but the slogan is not going to convince me to eat more or less beef. The sticker, however, did make me stop, pause, take a photo, and write about it, so maybe it did all it was designed to do…

Altered Sign

The Sign that Keeps Death Squads Out

The Sign that Keeps Death Squads Out

I came across this sign when I was walking the dogs along the river. Similar “off-limits” signs are supposed to keep bikes off horse trails and walking trails but they never work based on the amount of bike riders I see on these trails. I am wondering whether death squads pay more attention to signs… I guess such a sign can’t hurt – just in case.

If you are wondering, I think the sticker/label is associated with a skateboard fashion brand  with this name.

“I Might Be Wrong”

I Might be Wrong

Sign in the Back Window of a Truck

I have seen the above sign in the back of the truck window several times now in the neighborhood, and the sign intrigues me. It is quite different from other bumper stickers I have seen. I wonder what the motivation is. I know it is the title of a Radiohead song, but even then why display it? It does not mention the band at all.

“I might be wrong” – it sounds like an apology, admitting one’s oversight or lack of knowledge and actually feeling bad about that. It is a friendly sign to see when one is cut off in traffic by that truck or in some other way annoyed; at least the driver already admits that he/she might be wrong, so there is no reason to get annoyed.

Every time I see the sign, I feel I am missing something and I am hoping to run into the owner/driver to learn more about the sign.

Ode to the Oleander: May Is Oleander Month

Oleander Blossoms

Oleander Blossoms

I always know May is around the corner when the oleander bushes start to bloom in Northern California, and it is one of the prettiest views in the Central Valley. I fell in love with the bushes – yes, I feel that strongly about them – on my first trip to Spain as a teenager. Leaving cold and rainy Austria behind, I woke up after a night of riding in the car to the Spanish highways lined by blooming oleander bushes. And even now, the sight of the blooms makes me smile and gush. Ask my husband about how often I can point out how pretty the oleanders are on any of our drives from May to August, and he will tell you that it is definitely too often.

Oleander Bushes Line Miles of Highway in the Sacramento Valley

Oleander Bushes Line Miles of Highway in the Sacramento Valley

Oleanders Lining the Side of Highway 99

Oleanders Lining the Median of Highway 99

After the trip to Spain, I remember bringing cuttings back to Austria and schlepping the large containers of oleander bushes from the garage to the patio in summer and back to the garage in fall since they would not survive the hard frost in Austria. They needed to be babied like the exotic plants they were. Here in California, they are pretty much weeds and more or less nothing can kill them; they are drought tolerant once established and can be cut back to nearly the roots and they will still come back with new growth.

Oleanders Grow Anywhere and Need Very Little Water

Oleanders Grow Anywhere and Need Very Little Water

Trimmed Oleander Bushes

Trimmed Oleander Bushes

In the Central Valley of California, long stretches of highway are lined in the median by oleander bushes – lush green during winter and exploding color displays from early summer through fall. Once May starts, I look forward to driving specific stretches of highways because I know about the riotous display of blooms; “they’re going nuts!” It might be 100 degrees outside and I might be stuck in a traffic jam and barely moving but that just gives me more time to admire the color display. If the British Romantics would have visited California, I believe they would have composed odes to this humble bush that shakes in the draft of large semis rumbling by.

Oleanders Are Tall

Oleanders Are Tall

Oleanders are poisonous, which does not make them very popular with parents of small children but it also makes them deer resistant. And it has created the urban myth that a whole family supposedly  was poisoned by grilling hotdogs on oleander sticks over a camp fire. I was warned by my neighbor when I planted our first oleander plant in the front yard.

Blooming Oleanders Make Even Barbed Wire Fencing Look Good

Blooming Oleanders Make Even Barbed Wire Fencing Look Good

After the weather and the wild coast of Northern California on Highway 1, oleanders are definitely one of the Golden State’s best traits.