Spring Is In the Air

Lavender on a balcony against a blye sky.My senses are on high-alert: my nose is periodically lifted towards the first perfume of blooming flowers, my ears are picking out the be-ooo-eep of mockingbirds mimicking la policia, my eyes are noticing nature’s heightened color saturation, my skin is flushed with the growing heat of the midday sun. It’s that beautiful time of year when the thin, winter sunshine finally gives way to the fuller warmth of spring. Gone are the days of frigid southerly winds, steaming pots of stew, and shuffling around a cold apartment bundled in sweaters.

I thank the seasonal powers that be for setting spring in motion and boosting me out of my funk. I was becoming weary of the seemingly perpetual fall and winter. My seasonal clock was begging for relief after I missed summer by switching hemispheres – I went from early spring in Oregon to early fall in Argentina. This last week of beautiful, mid 60° weather has been a much-needed infusion of cheerfulness. I am gleefully prancing around outside wearing a t-shirt and running skirt, baring my paler than pale limbs and basking in the warmth, while the porteños are slowly shedding their thick winter jackets and scarves. Oh, glorious spring!

Bare jacarandas during winter in Buenos Aires.

The bare jacarandas are waiting for spring to arrive before showing their colorful blooms.

Fernando and I embarked on a balcony rejuvenation spree this weekend to kick off the beginning of more pleasant weather. Our patio’s built-in planter box looked like this for eight months:

It was so sad and empty! You can see our neighbor’s filled and green planter in the background putting ours to shame. Here is our little planter after the remodel:

Take that, neighbor! Now ours is more lovely, don’t you think? The flowers add a bit of color to the awful blush-colored building, and that gorgeous rosemary is an arm’s reach out the kitchen window. That skeletal abomination that was formerly in the left of ours was a dead plant that I presume was once a lovely, bushy thing.We tossed it into la basura, as I am sure having dead plants around is bad feng shui or something (and really ugly).

The palm tree-esque succulent that was in the middle is quite the warrior, having remained firmly rooted against every massive storm that has whipped across our patio. Thanks to Fer’s plant knowledge and a bit of help from Google I was able to determine that it is a kalanchoe diagremontiana. I’ve always been keen on its crooked and top-heavy style, and the purple stripes on the underside of the fleshy leaves are rather pretty.
If you look closely (near the stalk), you can see several small growths on the edges of the leaves. The plant reproduces by growing tiny versions of itself, complete with a miniscule root system, right on the jagged nodes. The tiny plantlets then fall off and take root wherever they can, propagating the species and earning it the name Mother of Thousands.

Single kalanchoe in planter.I wanted to keep the crazy succulent, which looked rather sad all by its lonesome, but it didn’t quite fit with the predominantly floral concept going into the planter. The kalanchoe was moved into a pot where a collection of smaller succulents will soon join it.

Potted kalanchoe and lavender on balcony.The lavender is blooming nicely and smells fabulous, though we are searching for a bigger pot for replanting. I suspect we will eventually end up with a few more lavender plants as it is one of my and Fer’s favorite flowers (and scents). Look at how beautiful it is against the brick wall:

Lavender blossoms against a brick wall.Adding to the rosemary and lavender fragrances is another one of our favorite plants:

Colorful jasmine wrapped around bamboo support.The three tiny blooms are already wafting their heavenly essence into our apartment; I can only imagine how amazing it will smell when all three feet of buds are flowering!

Getting down and dirty with a pile of dirt and beautiful plants is a great way to roll out the carpets for la gran entrada de la primavera. An obvious bonus is the beautification of our patio. It may not yet be the prettiest it could be, but it is undeniably a more enjoyable place to hang out and it smells fabulous. At this point I think the only plant that could make our patio smell any better is a gardenia (another one of my favorites). And now that I think of it, I will add it to my mental wish list: I don’t think an urban balcony can ever smell too good!


9 thoughts on “Spring Is In the Air

  1. Good work, everything is very beautiful and it shows a change. Congratulations on the story and the pictures.
    Dile a Fernando que es un buen: Aquí le decimos Paisajista…
    Saludos para los dos…

  2. Funny you should say that!
    Its just starting to turn fall here!
    Yesterday was probably the most pleasant autumn day I’ve had in a long long time after what has to be the world’s longest span of 100 degree weather lol.
    You can just smell it in the wind! It’ll be October soon!
    I’m excited! :D

  3. Kalanchoe’s are magic, every time I come across a
    facinating succulent – its a Kalanchoe of some kind.
    There is no limit to their form and function. I once had
    a plant similar to your mother plant, it’s roots rotted but
    when I pulled it up I discovered that the living portion
    had filled the dead portion with fresh roots. I was re –
    claiming the part of itself that had died. A hard freeze
    though lator killed it. I’d love to have another one. There
    is also a Kalanchoe Lucidia, aka pancake plant if you
    are interested.

    • I love the variety of succulents and the fact that I can generally only kill them if I try. I had never heard of kalanchoe until I dug up my little specimen; I now know that there are some beautiful, flowering kalanchoes available. I will keep an eye open for a lucidia- a small one would be a great contrast in the Mother’s pot!

      • I hope I spelled that right, another name for it is white
        lady. Cut it down when it starts to lean, plant the cutting,
        water the stump and get six more. The flowers arn’t as
        impressive as the rest of the plant, but a very commonly
        sold green variety has firey flowers that may bloom all
        year. It’s dence and can fill a whole box.

  4. I completely understand where you’re coming from because the same thing happened to me when I moved to Argentina! I came here on March 1, 2009, at the tail end of winter in the U.S., and I then had to brave another six months of fall and winter (which is rather gray and depressing here on the coast).

    Hooray for spring! Your planter box looks lovely. A little shot of color always goes a long way to lift the spirits.

    • Coming from the Pacific NW I am fully used to long stretches of wet and grey weather, but I think the chill of a continuous winter is what depressed me. My internal clock was so confused!
      I hope the warmer weather hits you guys soon!

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