In Bloom

This is my first spring in Houston since 2010. I had forgotten how vibrant and almost electric new-growth green is.

I'm not sure that this photo really captures it, but the tops of these trees near my house are the prettiest shade of bright, light green.

I’m not sure that this photo really captures it, but the tops of these trees near my house are the prettiest shade of bright, light green.

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.

Safa Park has lots of Flamboyants.

Safa Park has lots of flamboyants.

Dubai flamboyant

View from my bedroom window

View from my bedroom window

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.

Dubai petunias

Dubai petunia

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.

Dubai Bougainvilla

Dubai bougainvilla (2)

I never noticed that bougainvilla has these tiny flowers within the main flower until I started taking these pics. How sweet!

I never noticed that bougainvillea has these tiny flowers within the main flower until I started taking these pics. How sweet!

4) White plumeria. These wonderfully fragrant flowers have beautiful, broad, dark green  leaves. We had one in our yard and they smelled so sweet.

Dubai white plumeria

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.

Houston azaleas 4-2



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.

photo credit: Anna Martinez (Thank you Anna! Love this picture. I use this for my little ID pic too :) )

photo credit: Anna Martinez (Thank you Anna! Love this picture. I use this for my little ID pic too 🙂 )

This is me when I was little. Shh - don't tell anyone - I think it might be illegal to pick bluebonnets. The reddish-organge flowers are Indian Paintbrushes, another wildflower commonly found in Texas.

This is me when I was little. Shh – don’t tell anyone – I think it might be illegal to pick bluebonnets. The reddish-orange flowers are Indian paintbrushes, another wildflower commonly found in Texas.

3) Hibiscus. I love their vibrant, tropical blooms

Houston Hibiscus

I thought the hibiscus at my house was killed by the winter cold. Isn't it so exciting when you think something is dead but then little buds start to emerge?

I thought the winter cold killed the hibiscus at my house. Isn’t it so exciting when you think something is dead but then little buds start to emerge?

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.

Houston Lantana

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.

Photo credit: wikipedia

Photo credit: Wikipedia


What flowers remind you of home?



About Lynda

Longhorns and Camels is a blog about exploring Dubai from the perspective of an expat from Texas. It features stories about living in Dubai including descriptions of local culture and popular activities in the region. It also includes photography of the UAE and other countries abroad. It has been recommended by several well-known guides for expatriates: InterNations, ExpatWoman and Expat Focus.
This entry was posted in Day-to-day living in Dubai, Texas and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to In Bloom

  1. Diana says:

    Gorgeous color!!!!! Of course that pic of you is my favorite 🙂

  2. Abby Blanton says:

    Awww I miss the petunias, magnolias and blue bonnets (and Indian paintbrush!) of Houston so very much. Great pictures.

  3. We just returned from South Africa…missing the green! I do love the flowers here in Dubai. Wish I had a view of them from my balcony! Happy spring!

    • Lynda says:

      You are so lucky! We thought about going to S. Africa for our honeymoon, but didn’t and I’ve regretted it ever since. I hope you post about your trip. This post reminded me of your post about flowers a while back – I think we were fans of many of the same Dubai flowers 🙂

  4. love your blog! we both write about different things but i hope you also have interest for fashion 🙂

  5. What wonderful images here! Truly represent the spring! The petunias look stunning with so much colors!

  6. Lynda. your White Plumeria (#4 of your top list) is what I’ve always called Frangipani – in Australia where I was brought up, and in Bahamas and Cayman where I’ve lived and live, respectively. It’s far and away the most fragrant smell, I think. We get both pink flowers and yellow, though not on the same tree, of course. Plumeria is a new name for me. Poinciana is my favourite tree; we have one in our yard, and it provides wonderful shade in the summertime. Also Bougainvillea and Lantana, and we have a Hibiscus hedge outside one of the bedrooms. Nice.

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks for your note Gordon. I’ve heard of Frangipani, but didn’t know that’s what it was. I’d love to see the pink and yellow versions. Poinciana definitely seems like a tropical tree so I’m not surprised you have one in your yard. I had never seen one before moving to Dubai and had to look up their name. They seem a little bit like mimosas to me which we have here. (the leaves, not the flower) Yes! They do give great shade which is sooo important in Dubai. I bet you have an amazing yard – living in the Caribbean – lucky you!

  7. spicyessence says:

    Love the flowers! I really miss spring in Texas! Every time I see pictures of bluebonnets or other wildflowers I feel so homesick! I don’t think I have visited during the spring since I left almost 6 years ago! I think Kuwait is alot drier and more “desserty” than Dubai so the greenery is not as “nice” as Dubai. Mostly they grow lots of annual’s like petunias and sometimes daisy’s, but I see lots of shrubs!

    Hope you’re enjoying being back in Houston, I was there during Christmas with the family and we had such a great time!

    • Lynda says:

      Six years! That’s a long time! Next time you are in Texas for spring you’ll feel like you are in a psychedelic dream 🙂 Maybe that sounds like an exaggeration, but really, the colors seem really vibrant and I think it’s b/c I haven’t seen this sort of thing in a while. Or maybe its b/c we had a really rainy winter?? Dubai is probably greener than Kuwait, but I think that’s okay. As much as I love the flowers and everything, it’s also a little unsettling given the natural landscape. Anyway – I’m so glad you had a nice Christmas in TX! I 🙂

  8. Laura says:

    Beautiful! I can almost smell some of those flowers. Makes me wish NM were a big more humid (just a big)… gardening can be such a struggle here sometimes between the dry heat & alkaline soil. Enjoy your spring! xxL

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks Laura. 🙂 I can imagine that gardening there might be tough – but you guys have plenty of other natural beauty to make up for it. The humidity here is pretty nasty during the summer. I find gardening tough under any circumstances, unfortunately, I have zero ability – but I’m trying!

  9. Mitzie Mee says:

    At this time of the year, I’m looking around for snow drops, crocus and windflowers which were always plenty in Denmark, where I grew up. Haven’t seen any in Dubai:/

    • Lynda says:

      I had to look those up to see what they look like. 🙂 How sweet are those snow drops?? I love how they point downward – really unique.

  10. Sally says:

    I love that lantana too – just didn’t know its name. Safa Park had flamboyants – you would shudder at the complete decimation.

    • Lynda says:

      Oh no! How sad about Safa Park. 😦 We lived so close to it and spent a lot of time there – was a big part of my Dubai experience. Hard to think of a big waterway running through it.

  11. A.S says:

    Hey you! I love that photo of you! Too cute.

    • Lynda says:

      Hey! I’m so excited you’ve started a blog! 🙂 I saw your profile when I was on my phone and thought it might be you but the pic was really small. You’re so creative and talented – can’t wait to follow along! 🙂

  12. Wonderful images – so colourful and vibrant. And it goes to show I don’t know much about Texas. I thought it was mostly desert-like…

    • Lynda says:

      Thanks so much Otto. Yes, that’s a common assumption about Texas, and there are definitely parts that are really dry – but the state is full of a variety of different landscape because it’s so big. A large portion of TX is really green and full of trees, grasslands, flowers, etc.

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