This is my first spring in Houston since 2010. I had forgotten how vibrant and almost electric new-growth green is.
Right now the azaleas are in bloom, but are on their way out. Next up, bluebonnets! It’s really beautiful to see everything spring back to life.
When we moved to Dubai, I had never given much thought to how much landscape defines a person’s sense of home. It wasn’t until I started missing Houston’s big, shady oak trees that I realized how much terrain, trees and flowers strengthen your connection to a place.
It’s amazing how many spaces in Dubai are bursting with color despite the inhospitable environment. These are the flowers that remind me of Dubai:
1) Flamboyant Tree (or royal poinciana). This tree has vibrant orange flowers that explode into bloom right around the time when the really hot weather starts to kick in. The orange tops always reminded me of fire and seemed to announce the start of the blazing heat that was about to settle in for a long 5 month stay.
2) Petunias. These are common in Houston too, in fact, I just planted some yesterday, but I’ve never seen carpets of petunias like those found in Dubai. The number of workers it takes to plant, rip up and replant row upon row of petunias along freeways, in medians and in parks is staggering. Certainly not a fun job during the hot summer.
3) Bougainvillea. Normally the first place I think of when I think of bougainvillea is Spain. Maybe this is why our street in Dubai reminded me a bit of Spain when I first saw it. White walls draped with hot pink flowers are common in Dubai.
4) White plumeria. These wonderfully fragrant flowers have beautiful, broad, dark green leaves. We had one in our yard and they smelled so sweet.
5) Desert rose. I always wanted to plant one of these but never got around to it. They can have really interesting twisted and gnarled stems.
6) Crown of Thorns and Ixoria. These two don’t necessarily remind me of Dubai in general, but of our house there, because I had pots of them right next to our front door.
As for Houston, these are the flowers that most remind me of home:
1) Azaleas. I always get greedy and wish these flowering bushes would stay in bloom just a bit longer; the flowers always seem to disappear too quickly. Many people have azaleas in their yard and the wealthy neighborhood of River Oaks hosts an event every year, The Azalea Trail, where visitors can tour their grand gardens.
2) Bluebonnets. The state flower is the bluebonnet and it’s a yearly tradition to drive out to a bluebonnet field to snap some photos.
3) Hibiscus. I love their vibrant, tropical blooms
4) Lantana. I love lantana because they remind me of my grandmother’s garden. I’m also a fan because they are easy to grow (let’s just say I don’t have a green thumb) and their flowers are so sweet and delicate.
5) Magnolia Tree. To me, few trees say “the South” more than a magnolia tree. Perhaps more closely associated with Louisiana or Mississippi, this tree is common in Texas too and has big, dramatic blooms.
What flowers remind you of home?