The Ephemeral Blooms of a Changing Season
“Beautiful hands are as rare as jacaranda trees in bloom.” —Raymond Chandler
There’s a poetic symmetry to spring.
Colors come out as the temperatures rise and the winds begin to blow signaling the inevitable heat of summer.
It can be seen in the trees, too.
The brilliant yellow pageantry of the palo verde, the unanticipated beauty and indigo blue of the smoke tree, the creamy pale yellow sepal-crowned Joshua tree, and the unanticipated indigo blue beauty of the smoke tree in full bloom.
And then there’s the glorious dreamy lavender of the jacaranda.
Though nearly 50 species of jacaranda trees exist, it is the jacaranda mimosifolia, or "blue jacaranda," that ubiquitously appears around SoCal this time of year —blooming twice annually, usually in the spring of late May and October’s early autumn.
Precisely when the blooms come out can be as difficult to predict as human behavior —even in the surfeit of high spring the ephemeral blue-purple blooms may be absent —until, suddenly, they’re there.
And there’s no mistaking it —like holding the hand of a lover —you know it’s spring when the jacarandas are in bloom.
Our backyard’s lavender canopy of jacarandas —the Jimi Hendrix of trees —becomes a riotous cloud of blue and purple haze.
Jacarandas are indigenous to the tropical regions of Argentina and Brazil in South America.
Introduced to the south land during the Gold Rush years by forty-niners who brought clippings and seeds aboard schooner ships making passage through Buenos Aires on their way west the glorious trees became wildly popular, proliferating densley throughout the 20th century. .
Railroad tycoon Phineas Banning imported jacarandas from the Amazon for several of his estates during the 1860s.
The entrancing beauty and joy of the jacaranda makes it more wonderful to be alive.
About as wide as their height, the tree’s oval canopy of trumpet-shaped petals present a visual feast and passage to some foreign land or fairy tale.
The Russian novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, said he could live here for the jacarandas alone.
There is an undeniable and lively reverence for nature in all of us. The birth of spring brings out a sympathetic curiosity and awareness of other living things.
Even in the absence of baseball hope springs eternal.
Prevalent in South America, Australia, and South Africa, jacarandas are rarely found anywhere else in the U.S. Their energy efficient shade and moderate water consumption do much to improve the quality of life in our climate.
The magnificence and spectacle of the jacaranda carries its own resonances —the nearest thing we have to the change of seasons witnessed throughout the rest of the country.
Rarely encountered in nature the bewitching hue of their blooms compel —only one tenth of the world's 290,000 known species of flowering plants produce blue flowers.
Their purple splendor delights, then disappears —like the relinquishing of an outgrown habit, or the releasing of a loved one’s hand.
And so, as we look around in late May, or early June, at the violaceous expanse that was for a brief time gloriously purple and is now simply sky, we Coachella Valleans can experience the hope and opportunity that a change of season brings —and the passing of old ways.