Tuesday, October 24, 2006

hibiscus, shades of red & hormones

Years ago, a friend of youngest daughter gave me a stick, because, the friend said, if she didn't give it to me, she would soon succeed in killing it off. Well, it had a few leaves on it and I knew it was a hibiscus.

Over the years, it has become a small tree and annually gets a severe haircut around the end of the year, or I would never be able to bring it inside again from its vacation outdoors. It is one of the 50-lb pots I mentioned in a previous post, that I lug out to the deck in the summer, and indoors again, when frost threatens.

At a crazy depressing time in my life, one bright spot was my cleaning lady, Ella, from the Philippines, who thought I spent a ridiculous amount of time caring for what, for her, was a rather common, weedy hedge plant "back home". We had many a laugh over that.

Ella has a great many hilarious stories about her sense of dislocation as an immigrant to Canada, a wonderful sense of humour, and sharp observational skills about people! And she was, bar none, the best cleaning lady I ever had, or probably will ever have. I realize that sounds like I live some posh kind of life. My only answer to certain people (who shall remain nameless, unless I start feeling really bitchy/menopausal!) who, I know criticize me for this, is that we all have different priorities. I scrimp on other things you would consider necessities.

Oh, it's lovely to be able to threaten to go 'menopausal'!! If issues I've had in the past were pooh-poohed away as being because I was hormonal, I intend to use this last hormonal fling to my advantage for a change. ;D

(Oh yeah, we were talking about the hibiscus, before I got sidetracked by my 'whoremones'!)

Above the nearly single form of its bloom. When it starts blooming again after its haircut, the first bloom is usually like this, with an occasional subsequent bloom also being of this form. The more usual double/triple form is below:

The camera flash seems to water down to a pinky shade the rather more red shade of my hibiscus bloom. Each bloom is about 5" (13cm) across!

Right now, as the days darken and the wet winds threaten snow, it is blooming in the corner of my living room at the rate of a dozen or more blossoms at a time, cheering me up no end! The blooms fade within a day or two, but who cares when more are constantly on the way?

This is the in-between-time of the seasons that I find very difficult to handle. Maybe it's the shortening days. Maybe it's that nearly all the leaves are off the trees. For a while, I enjoyed seeing the form of trees revealed as the leaves fell, but now they're just bare. It's cold. It's wet. It's grey.

I'll feel better when we have snow. (Except I haven't managed to get winter tires yet -- oooh dear -- not one of my priorities, though it should be, sigh...) Or maybe, I'll feel better if the sun finally comes out tomorrow as forecast (then I can put off worrying about snowtires, lol).

I have another hibiscus I call Sheila's Hibiscus, only because it was Sheila who gave me this rooted cutting from one of her plants. This week I'm enjoying my first bloom from it. Very similar to my other hibiscus, Sheila's is a rich pink, somewhat more frilly with a more picoteed edging to the petals. Sorry, I tried to photograph it yesterday (no good or blurry) and today, spent, it fell. But another bud is about to open on the plant and I'll upload a photo as soon as I have one.

I have had a tea that included hibiscus in the blend. Would anybody know what variety of hibiscus blossoms would be good in tea? I know what I have probably isn't poisonous because my daughter's cats used to nibble on the leaves without suffering ill effects, so I tried the dried petals in tea -- can't say they were special. They did colour the tea red. The blossoms don't really have any discernible scent.

Maybe a more scented variety would be better in tea?

According to my trusty Richter's catalogue, the variety used is Hibiscus sabdariffa and it imparts a lemony flavour and a beautiful red colour to the tea.

Hibiscus, when I think of them, envoke images of Hawaii and the tropical hibiscus, H. rosa-sinensis, which is most likely the variety I have here, or a hardy variety I have seen a lot of in old gardens, like my sister's in-laws' gardens in Kentucky, H. syriacus. Lists & Lists...Hibiscus species describes hundreds!

To begin searching for information about hibiscus, especially the tropical H. rosa-sinensis, one could not do much better than to start with the American Hibiscus Society.


Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Are you in zone 5? [If you've mentioned it, I've forgotten!] Some of the herbaceous kinds, Hibiscus moscheutos, have lovely flowers but the whole plant dies to the ground and goes dormant over winter. There are many colors and slightly different shapes. Mine did great in Zone 5 Illinois, and do well in TX, too. You wouldn't have as long a bloom season, but you also wouldn't have to find room for them in the house!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

7:44 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

Yes, Annie. I do live in Zone 5. I have considered some of the herbaceous kinds (Diane is one variety I have lusted after). I'm sure I'll be getting some someday soon. I suspect some of the hibiscus I admired in Kentucky would be hardy here.

1:27 p.m.  

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