How does your bougainvillea grow?

I mentioned earlier this week that I adore bougainvillea. The big B is quite a plant: extravagant, gaudy, vibrant. I love that the lush purple, pink, and peach colors aren't actually the flowers of the plant, but leaves faking as blooms. Its flowers are dainty little white blooms hiding amid all that color. Bougainvillea is the Cher of the botany world.

There are a few bougainvillea beauties in our neighborhood. I know right where they are so I can gawk at them as we pass by. I just can't get over how the branches stretch out in every direction, constantly inviting the world to join in on their 24/7 disco party.

I've been plotting to plant a bougainvillea in our own backyard. Only then I started to wonder if we might, in fact, already be in possession of said plant. There is a highly-manicured treelike bush in our backyard. (Who highly manicured this plant, you ask? Um, here's where I have to admit that we have a gardener. Since we live in property owned by the church, the same fellow who takes care of the grounds at church comes by twice a month to mow and manicure our yard. We feel a bit sheepish about this, but also very grateful.) Sure enough, this week, the buzzcut plant started turning that familiar shade of fuschia. Turns out there is a whole other breed of bougainvillea, Cher's older sister who prefers Talbots over sequined gowns. This version of the B doesn't disco, and she certainly doesn't flirt over the neighbor's fence. She is a model of good botanical behavior.

I am relatively sure that both approaches to bougainvillea are considered acceptable according to the laws of So-Cal landscape. We see plenty of ornery bougainvillea plants in otherwise tidy yards. So it must simply be a personality thing. I'm partial to the first, though I can learn to love the tamer version. She still turns a shocking shade of pink.

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