Magical Friends

Pride of Madeira_DSC_4546

The first time I saw these towering plants, I thought I had entered a fairy tale land.

The Pride of Madeira (Echium) generally grows near the coast in California. But as a native of Madeira and the Canary Islands, it found a welcome home in Sacramento’s WPA Garden. We tried, without luck, to grow it in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. But it thrives in this enchanted garden tucked inside William Land Park, an urban oasis, creating a perfect climate for Mediterranean and coast-loving plants in our otherwise hot and freeze-sensitive valley.


Pride of Madeira begins blooming in April with towering spikes of violet-blue flowers. At the coast, it is considered invasive. But here, it stays pretty well-behaved.

Pride of Madeira_DSC_4512

Its hundreds of tiny flowers cast a magical spell over bees and butterflies.

Pride of Madeira_DSC_4513

And this one in particular:

Pipevine Swallowtail_DSC_4561

The Pipevine Swallowtail. This tailed beauty has an iridescent blue blue body, white spots on the upper side of the hind wings, and a row of orange polka dots.

Pipevine Swallowtail_DSC_4580

I can almost always find one flitting from flower to flower: two blue beauties – magical friends.

Pipevine Swallowtail_DSC_4568