Memories of Hibscus

My earliest memories of the hibiscus plant as a child was probably when I was about five or six years old. I can only remember snippets of my life before then as most would agree when it comes to early childhood memories. Growing up, at least one neighbour if not more had the red Hibscus variety( Hibscus rosa-sinensis) in the estate we lived and I think there were some planted in my primary school grounds . All I remember was that as kids we somehow knew and I don’t know how, that this particular plant was edible. As I write this I can just imagine some people reading this and worrying that we had a meal of Hibscus flowers. No we didn’t. Rather we used to remove the stamen from the flower and lick the nectar. I’m struggling to remember what it tasted like but I guess it was sweet, different and intriguing . I think I did it at first just to know what it tasted like but also for fun. Not all hibiscuses are edible though but this particular one I grew up with was.

Two years ago, on a visit to the garden centre with my father in law I caught sight of a Hibscus plant in the clearance section. Not one to pass by a bargain I asked my father in law for his thoughts. He was dubious of the plants ability to survive the British winter especially in my garden with its heavy clayey soil. Not being one to be fazed by a challenge , I decided to go with my gut and I went on and bought the Hibscus plant anyway. There were no flowers on it at the time so it was just the promise of potential that spurred me on. What also attracted me to it was its unusual name- China Chiffon and how the flowers looked from the picture tag.

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China Saffron ( Autumn 2016)

Two years on I’m glad I took the chance on this plant. It is such a delicate Hibscus variety and mine seems to have developed some pretty purple streaks in its petals, but it has produced a mass of flowers. The key to it doing so well this year has been a good summer and some ‘Miracle Grow’. The latter is something I just discovered this year and something I don’t think I’d do without going forward with my gardening projects.

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China Saffron with purple streaks

For me the China Chiffon is a bit like some people or sometimes projects that come one’s way. At first it might not be great to look at, but with patience, the right attention and right ingredients it can yield massive returns. One just has to sometimes take a chance and not always play safe. As the Hibscus continues to flourish in my garden, I’m reminded of my childhood and I plan to get the variety I grew up with and plant it somewhere in my garden sometime in the near future.

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The flowers are starting to fade

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