Cyclamen is the most fabulous choice for cool season color in SoCal! They are a flowering bulb native to Europe and the Mediterranean that prefers shade or part sun. Growing only about 8 inches, they are supposed to come up in the autumn and stay up through spring dying back in the summer. But I have had have some plants keep their foliage and flowers through the Summer(in pots). They bloom in ranges of pinks, red and white and purplish. How wonderful if they would come in orange or yellow(which is so deficient in shade gardens).
If you look at the flower closely, it is the only flower I know that actually turns itself inside out when it opens! Pretty cool, huh?
And those mottled heart shaped leaves come in such beautiful patterns. I have seen some with so much gray in them they look variegated! Since it's a bulb, it likes well-drained soil and will rot if not given such!
Folks here love to plant the white Cyclamen with red Pointsettias for holiday accents and sad to say so many rip them out after Christmas. Because they are a bulb, they are a little more spendy than average annuals in 4" pots. The going price is $3.99 -$4.99. For shade, Cyclamen for autumn and winter and Impatiens for spring and summer. But that's a whole different blog post!