Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Big

 If your perennial garden doesn't have one of these, it should.  The flowers aren't just big, they are huge.  And it is almost a carefree plant.  It only suffers from being tasty to Japanese beetles.  This cultivar is related to one of the rose mallows, a species of Hibiscus, but TPP doesn't know which one, perhaps H. moscheutos.  This is the one of the biggest flowers in our garden in terms of diameter, only surpassed by one of the big-leafed magnolias (back a few FFF's ago).  So that flower is about 8 " in diameter, pretty gaudy.  The cultivars come in a range of colors from white to dark red.  All have a center target of darker red.  It also flowers in mid to late summer.  
This plant was also called a marsh mallow because the grew in wet areas.  The roots were spongy and white, and if sweetened they were used as a confection, the botanical ancestor of marshmellows, a purely sugar confection.

Friday Fabulous Flower - Big and Blue


Somehow TPP missed a Friday.  Who knows how this happens but it did.  Fortunately there are a few reliable plants that flower in the late summer.  This plant moves around the garden a bit, but it's always around. Quite reliable, you just have to learn how to recognize the seedlings and leave a couple.  This is the great or big blue Lobelia (L. siphilitica), probably the easiest Lobelia to keep around your garden. And this part of the garden is fairly dry, although some field guides suggest it likes wet areas.  Don't know about the specific epithet, perhaps this species was thought to have a medicinal use, but no obvious connection.  There are supposedly two varieties here in Illinois, but TPP isn't sure he's ever a seen a difference.