29. August 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
Over the course of the day, the stamen will produce their bright yellow pollen, such as what’s seen here.  It’s all very fast…this flower was wilted by sunset.

As promised two posts ago, here’s a nice pretty post for you.  This is our Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) plant that grows in front of Jacob’s bedroom window in the front of our house.  I was pleased to see these flowers this summer, since the week we moved into the house in late November 2010, we had a hard freeze that essentially killed off the 5′ tall plant for the season.  But in April it came back!

Unfortunately, when the hibiscus plant has to start from scratch, it’s tough to get the profuse flowers that I was accustomed to in Hawaii (where my Dad was stationed then when I was ages 3-6) and Melbourne, FL (when we were stationed at Patrick AFB).  These flower bring back so many memories of living in Hawaii where our house (we lived in military housing) had a tall hedge-like row of hibiscus along one of the outside walls.

I’ve been seeing the occasional flower this summer…hibiscus flowers only last one day so it’s been tricky getting outside at the right time to photograph it.  It needed to be before lunchtime, and most of this summer I simply wasn’t thinking about heading out to photograph the front yard until it was too late in the day.

Once school started, and the kids were playing in the front yard while waiting for their respective buses, I had a chance on the first day of school to get these shots of a fresh bloom!

The flowers are about 5-6″ across.

11. March 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 4: Springtime on the Panhandle…Part I · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

I know, it’s only March 10th, and many of my readers (I get 50 new visitors per day now, by the way!) are still sitting underneath snowpacks. But here on the Florida Panhandle, the brief winter* we had has definitely given way to spring: complete with thunderstorms, tornadoes, allergies and weeds! Things were brown when I left for Nebraska, and were green and pollen-ey when I returned 5 days later!

*YES — we experienced a real winter here! It even snowed a little on Christmas Day in Pensacola!

I thought I’d share some pictures of the flora and fauna that have greeted us in the past couple weeks. Last year in Nebraska was especially fun, and I hope to get around the neighborhood more this weekend and capture some of the local redbuds.

First of all, upon my return from Nebraska on Feb. 27th, these shrubs in the front of the house had just started blooming:

From a distance, they look like azaleas, right? But that’s not what they are. After some seemingly-random Googling of “pink flowers Florida Panhandle” and things like that, the term “Chinese Fringe Flower” appeared and I chose it. And there you go. This is the loropetalum plant, also known as “Chinese witch hazel” or “Chinese fringe flower”.

I have two varieties in my front yard landscaping:

Here’s one with my oldest son next to it for scale. The shrubs aren’t very tall:

I went to my favorite resource for flora information, my friendly neighborhood Cooperative Extension Service! University of Florida’s IFAS briefing on the loropetalum.

I was also curious about how long these plants had been used as landscaping, since I’ve NEVER seen them until now! Here’s some historical information from Mississippi State’s Cooperative Extension Service. Looks like only since the early 1990s.

If only this blog had Scratch-n-Sniff! The flowers are quite fragrant!

I’m particularly intrigued with the way the flower buds open up, reminding me of a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis, with the huge antennae uncoiling.