Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Lush life

Lush rush. Bloomin' lupins. Tobacco road... Several headlines come to mind because walking through Kite Hill and Elysian Park was such a rich experience this afternoon, with a break in the rain, a cool wind blowing hard and virtually everything in bud or busy moving on to the next phase. On Kite Hill I saw my first lupine blossoms of the year as I panted my way to the top of the Baxter Stairs. The Kite Hill variety has petals that are almost white -- with lavender-pinkish highlights. It's one of my favorite plants, and I have tried to grow them in my own fairly wild yard nearby -- I've even purloined a few seeds from these very same plants. But my success -- or would that be their success? -- has been extremely limited. A couple of plants came up, but they didn't get bigger than my smallest expectations -- they produced just a few blossoms and then no return the following year. Perhaps the soil mix of broken glass and iron nails, sandstone and eucalyptus muck in my yard doesn't work for these native plants.

So many other plants are bursting through their winter waiting, too. In Elysian Park I first saw mustard plant blooms a few days ago. And many more today. Soon enough there will be great swaths of yellow coloring the hillsides and towering over people along the trails. ... Speaking of yellow flowers, the tobacco-tree plants are getting ready to toot their yellow horns.Tobacco tree I saw more than a few furled yellow flowers on the eight foot plants, bent over in the rain -- the plant itself is not so lovely. In fact it's not allowed to grow in my own yard. Though we still have one to look at -- it grows in my neighbor's yard and droops over the fence. But the offense (pun intended) is so minor. It's only a tobacco-tree plant (Nicotiana glauca), of course. Not to be confused with actual tobacco plant whose leaves can be harvested and turned into sickness and early death. No, this one (see photo) is harmless in every way except for, perhaps, as a pest.

Meanwhile, the plants aren't the only ones with something to say about spring. I asked Allen Anderson, who lives in Frogtown/Elysian Valley, how the river was doing -- and he reports that the river is noisy, having picked up volume and speed in the rains. It can be pretty dramatic at this time of year. It wants to move, and you don't want to get in the way.

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