There've been some provocative comments regarding my little February 23 posting about form and foliage trumping floral color. I hope I didn't mislead anyone into thinking that good garden design totally eschews the use of flowers. I just tend to view them as the ephemeral icing on the cupcake.
When you run into a plant like this luscious Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud) as it's tiny sweet pea-like flowers mature and the crisp kidney-shaped leaves emerge, perfection is the result. It's my harbinger of spring in a climate where one season just sort of slides into the next.
This lovely California native is just emerging from winter dormancy in Santa Barbara this month. Look for them behind the entry kiosk at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. There are even a few on the right side of the northbound 101 freeway, just before the Bath Street off-ramp. But I think the Highway Patrol would prefer you not pull over to appreciate their delicate beauty.
Nuff said - soak it up.