California lilacs (as they are also known) vary in habit from ground cover to trees, with small, tough, evergreen leaves. A signature California plant, they feature springtime displays of elongated globes of tiny flowers that range from white to deep blue, depending on species. We have at least ten varieties, from the 10-foot-and-still-growing Hairy Leaf through Robert Smaus' favorite Concha to the very low, very intense Centennial.
The Ceanothus family typically prefer little water and a little shade, especially inland. Typically short-lived (5-10 years), overwatering is often the cause of death; make sure they are in well-drained soil. C. g. h. 'Yankee Point' (also known as Carmel creeper, originally found at Yankee Point in Monterey County) is more forgiving in that it will take heavier soil and more water. Our two have spread 4-6' in 2-3 years (the deer often prunes them back; they'll eventually double in size), and have remained under 1' tall despite being described by many as low shrubs. This photo is larger than actual size; the bloom heads are about 2" long, medium blue, and have interesting details. Great on slopes.