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On a hot afternoon in L.A., great tufts of bougainvillea were blooming in three sorbet colors — soft pink, golden orange and screeching fuchsia. Not a lot of shade, but the effect was refreshing. We pulled over, put money in the meter, and walked. These colorblocked bougainvilleas grow on...

The traffic islands around here are truly one of the natural wonders of the world. A couple weeks ago, we noticed that one of our regular concrete drive-bys became irradiated overnight with thousands of fuchsia-color flowers. Turns out, it’s a type of athletically spreading succulent,...