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The Silk Oak Tree, a fast-growing import from Australia, comes into short-lived glory this month. Golden flower clusters decorate the silvery-green branches, an effect that is particularly stunning when seen in contrast to the blue-blossoming jacaranda trees often planted nearby. A common tree in San Diego-area parks, the silk oak is also a popular street and back-yard tree in the older residential areas.

Monkey-Flowers of various species are putting on an excellent display this month around San Diego. Look for these low, shrub-like plants with tubular yellow, orange, or red flowers wherever native vegetation clothes the landscape -- from the coastal bluffs to the lower slopes of the mountains. As you drive Interstates 8 or 805 near Mission Valley, look for the rust tint these flowers give to the steep hillsides. On the terraces just above San Onofre State Beach, you can usually see springtime monkey-flower blossoms of every intermediate shade from yellow to red.

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