"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Leaf of the Day: Neches River Rose Mallow

After 10 days of hard work, today I took some time off to meet with a friend at Leu and have a walk and a think about my next drawings and paintings. Just as I was leaving the garden I bumped into Pedro, and Joel who takes care of the Butterfly Garden here. We were talking about the various species of climber that are draped around the garden which are so loved by the butterflies and to my great delight Pedro has now shown me a fence where there are many beautiful scrambling, climbing, clinging things, including... joy of joys...the bat leaved passion flower! Only 4 days ago I was talking about this and I hope to have a leaf later this week to draw. He has also given me a mysterious fruit which I am to put in a paper bag until ripe. I am intrigued.
Today's drawing is a leaf that I had hoped to use for the course submission. It has been chilling in the fridge for a few days now and is the most elegant and stylish leaf from the from the Neches River Rose-mallow, Hibiscus dasycalyx.
This grows in one of the borders near the Courtyard Gazebo and is a perennial hibiscus found on the Neches River in east Texas. The leaves are beautiful and the flowers are ivory colored with deep pink to maroon throats.


photo from the University of Florida here plus article about hardy Hibiscus

Originally from warm southern China, the hibiscus was developed by the gardeners of the Chinese royal court who bred many varieties in their continual search for new and different flowers, now there are thousands. They were introduced into Europe in the 1700's and first arrived in the USA in about about 1842. The enterprising nurserymen, the Reasoner Brothers of Oneco, Florida published the first catalogue of 25 species of hibiscus in 1887. Their huge importance in introducing new species to Florida is celebrated in a waymarker sign in Manatee County, more info and map here

The leaves of this plant are gorgeous. Its fine delicate lanceolate fingers are held at the strange angle away from the stem and it was because of this, that I decided not to include it in the page of leaves for the submission. It needs a few drawings to understand its shape and aspect. This is the first hibiscus I have drawn.

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Naches River Rose Mallow


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