"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag

Hibiscus in the Evening

From Hibiscus for the Yard by R. H. Hanchey and W. D. Kimbrough:

“During warm weather the blooms of most of the varieties of hibiscus last for only a day. They open in the morning and cannot normally be used for decorative purposes that night. The time of opening varies somewhat with different varieties. Hibiscus flowers can be used the night following the morning they open if they are removed from the plants as soon as they are fully open and stored at temperatures [of 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit]. They may be kept in a home refrigerator….

“The plants are not damaged by removing the blooms if no leaves are removed. Even though the blooms last but a day, free blooming varieties will furnish an abundance of flowers during the normal blooming season.”


I took the photos in the galleries below in sequence one day in mid-June. The first three photos are from late morning as the flowers were just opening, and the rest were taken between golden hour and blue hour, as I mentioned in my previous post (see Hibiscus in the Morning).

While it’s certainly true (as noted in the quotation above) that hibiscus flowers typically only last one day, it’s also true that the texture of the flower petals change as the day wears on: they get thinner and become more translucent with evening’s approach. In all the photos after the first three, then, you can see two things happening: the flower petals are thinning so more light appears to pass through them (the eye and the camera see that as less intense reflected color saturation); and different colors become more apparent as the sunlight changes from late-day warmth to the cooler blue and purple glow that accompanies early evening light. There is a marked shift from warm to cool colors between the seventh and eight photo below, taken just a few minutes apart.

Thanks for taking a look!

Hibiscus in the Morning

From Hibiscus for the Yard by R. H. Hanchey and W. D. Kimbrough:

“The hibiscus is one of the most popular flowering plants grown in tropical and subtropical areas…. It belongs to the mallow family, which contains several well-known plants such as cotton, hollyhock, turks cap, and the mallows. The genus Hibiscus also includes the shrub althea, confederate rose, and okra. The fringed hibiscus from Africa, the species schizopetalus, also belongs to this genus.

“There are several reasons for the increased popularity of the hibiscus. Improved varieties, especially some of the doubles, that attract attention are an important one. The fact that hibiscus bloom at a time of year when other flowers are not too plentiful, or are of poor quality, is of considerable importance. The realization that hibiscus may be grown successfully in many areas where it had not been grown has been helpful. The personal interest of some nurserymen in hibiscus and their making plants of good varieties available at reasonable prices has given impetus to the popularity of the plant.”

From “Hibiscus (Malvaceae)” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“In those temperate regions with warm and humid summers, the range in [hibiscus] cultivation is boosted by a number of herbaceous perennial species from the U.S. Southeast, which have enormous flowers, e.g., Hibiscus moscheutos. In the tropics, H. rosa-sinensis is the most popular species in cultivation, with many varieties in a wide range of colours. A native of eastern Asia it has been in cultivation for many centuries — it is not clear how many. It is a polyploid, which adds much complexity and indeed unpredictability to its genetics; it is a very popular plant for both commercial and amateur breeding across the tropics, with many local societies promoting the plant and encouraging breeding.”


In an earlier post (see Bearded Iris Motley Mix (1 of 2)), I mentioned that I bought a couple of new hibiscus plants for two pots in my garden, but had no idea what kind or color the flowers would be since they only had a generic “Hello My Name is Hibiscus” plant tag. They started blooming a couple of weeks later, and while I initially thought they would be orange because of the color of their flower buds, the orange faded away as they opened and was replaced by dark red centers and saturated pink petals.

This is the first of two posts featuring these hibiscus, showing photos taken mid-morning. In the next post, I’ll show photos of these same hibiscus flowers taken in the early evening, between the late-day golden hour and blue hour around sunset. It was fun to see how the representation of color changed later in the day, when fading sun highlighted some of the blue, purple, and magenta in the flowers over the pinks and reds. Neat how that happens, don’t you think?

Thanks for taking a look!

A White Begonia, an Orange Hibiscus, and a Red Japanese Maple

From “Begonia (Begoniaceae)” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“Begonias are named for Michel Bégon, a French colonial governor, by botanist Charles Plumier (1646–1704), probably to thank him for giving him a post as an official plant collector in the colonies. They have been used medicinally, while one Chinese species, Begonia fimbristipula, is commercially available as a herb tea….

“Botanical classification is complex and the subject of several recent research projects. These are very much enthusiast plants: currently 66 sections are recognised and some 10,000 cultivars have been raised over time.”

From “Hibiscus (Malvaceae)” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“There are some 750 species of Hibiscus, whose name is derived from the Greek for the closely related mallow. Overwhelmingly they are found in the world’s tropical regions, both Old and New Worlds, and include trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals….

“In those temperate regions with warm and humid summers, the range in cultivation is boosted by a number of herbaceous perennial species from the U.S. Southeast, which have enormous flowers….”


Here we are at the end of the first week of November, and a bit of fall color is finally starting to paint its way into my neighborhood.

Over the past few days, this Japanese Maple in front of my living room window has turned dark red, its leaves casting a red-orange glow over everything in that room. I’m fascinated by the color, because of its unusual intensity and something else: this maple has lived for years in the shade of a gigantic street-side Bradford Pear tree that has made several previous appearances here, but that Pear is no more. It split in two a few months ago during an intense summer thunderstorm, falling against a telephone pole at the sidewalk in front of my house, then last week the remaining half-tree was cut down by city workers. So now the Japanese Maple is no longer hidden in the shade, and when early morning sun lights up this window, it’s gorgeous! The wild-n-crazy begonia growing there looks pretty cool too!

These two galleries show the last of my late summer/early autumn photos.

The first three pictures are blooms from a begonia called “Senator IQ” — one of three I have in pots on a patio table under an umbrella, where it grows well in the moderate light and sends its tiny flowers over the edge of the table to seek out the sun (as plants like to do). I prefer this kind of begonia because its leaves are very dark green — and that with the shade from the patio umbrella makes it easier to highlight the white blooms with minimal background darkening in Lightroom.

Here are some flowers from an “Orange Hibiscus” — which was the name on the handwritten plant tag in the pot I purchased it in. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be its actual name, or someone just went for the obvious moniker. Anyway, I’ve renamed it OrangeOrangeOrange Hibiscus, because that seems to fit at least as well. The plant was mixed in with other annuals and perennials at the garden center, so I’m not sure if it will hold out through the winter and produce new blooms next year — but it’s still going strong and has added several inches to its leaves and stems despite cooler temperatures and darker days.

Here you see some of the blooms at various focal lengths through a macro lens. In several of the photos you’ll also see little swatches of pink or magenta near the center of the flower. At first I thought these were artifacts and started removing them in Lightroom, then realized (after a little research) that these magenta/pink highlights are colors in wavelengths intended to attract pollinators and direct them toward … the pollinating spot! Smart plant!

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Hibiscus syriacus (or, When a Rose Is Not a Rose)

From Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“Since the 7th century at least, Hibiscus syriacus has been grown in Korea, where (in the South) it is the national flower, seen as embodying the tenacity and survival instincts of the Korean people and their national culture…. A stylised version of the flower’s five petals is a common part of Korean national iconography. The flowers are eaten in China and Korea, and tea can be made from the leaves….

Hibiscus syriacus was introduced to Germany from present-day Lebanon in the 16th century, although there had been a considerably longer history of cultivation in the Middle East, and longer still in eastern Asia. Colour variants were often mentioned by early European garden writers, who knew it only as an orangery or greenhouse plant. Doubles were known by the early 19th century. It has been very successful over much of the United States, where it is known as rose of Sharon….”

So I’ve been perched on my back steps frequently over the past few days, waiting patiently for a couple of Lantana plants in my garden to push out sufficiently effluvient (!!) blooms for a small photo-shoot — but so far I’m not satisfied with my test shots and will just keep waiting for them to make better flowers. They seem to be running late this year; though their tardiness is probably because one plant is a transplant, and the other I cut almost to the ground last winter since The Dog seemed to think it was his job to try and pull the leafless plant out of the ground. Once I cut it back, he lost interest… must only be dog-fun if you’re tugging on something ten times your length….

In the meantime, here are a few shots from my Hibiscus syriacus — aka, Rose of Sharon — whose flowers have been blooming daily in the hot July sun.

Roses of Sharon (or is it “Rose of Sharons” or maybe “Roses of Sharons” (not really)) are pretty common here in the southeast; you see them in yards and gardens in all sorts of shapes and sizes — owing, I think, to their ability to tolerate a wide range of conditions as long as they get enough sun to keep happy. They’re technically a shrub — but they don’t seem to know they’re supposed to be shrubby, so you can find them bushing out widely, filling out as much space as you give them and sometimes achieving the heights of two-story houses while producing an enormous number of flowers from mid- to late-summer. My neighbors have one that’s easily thirty feet tall, located between my house and theirs; mine is in a large pot in the sun-section of my back yard and stands about five feet high. I cut it back to a foot or so every fall to keep it pot-sized and it returns with new shoots and leaves every spring.

The bits of what looks like glitter on some of the blooms is just pollen; I normally zap it away using spot-removal in Lightroom, but kept it this time since the light struck it just right and the little dots looked adorably shiny.

Thanks for taking a look!

%d bloggers like this: