Cranberry Hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella)

While working at the Master Gardener office, I noticed a lone shrub scrabbling along the building’s foundation. To my Northern eye it looked like Japanese Maple, but then i saw the telltale flower of Cranberry Hibiscus, aka Hibiscus acetosella.

Hibiscus acetosella flower and leaf, January 2015

H. acetosella is a fast growing, hardy perennial in zones 8-11, reaching 3-5′ tall and 30″ wide the first year. The foliage is usually green to deep burgundy with 3-5 lobes and a jagged edge. It suckers and thickens quickly, and is best pruned around 3′ to encourage branching and a fuller appearance.  A wonderful winter bloomer, it contrasts nicely with light green or chartreuse tropical plants.

Hibisicus acetosella branch and buds, January 2015

This one needs pruning!

Cranberry hibiscus is thought to be a natural hybrid of H.asper and H.surattensis, two varieties originally cultivated for food in the southern DR Congo-Angola-Zambia region of Africa.  All three have edible, tart shoots and leaves that chop easily for salads, but only H. acetosella retains its leaf color when stir fried or boiled as a spinach type side dish.

Hibiscus acetosella woody stem going to seed

The flowers mature to shiny and showy burgundy pod-fruit-flower like complexities (actually, it’s the calyx that’s providing most of the show) used world-wide in warm-climate cuisine for tea and jam.

Hibiscus acetosella flowering twig

If allowed to grow too tall, the woody stems will bend and break, so pinch, pinch, pinch for a more compact, prettier shrub.

As a side note, Gardenfest Weekend is here!  Can’t wait to show you all the beautiful booths and plants!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂


Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself (Converge Part 2)

This week’s photo challenge is part 2 of my Moscow penpal saga.  If you’re new or missed part 1, read this first. The short version: I’ve been communicating with a Russian man for quite awhile now, and this week I received a package!


Ayyyyyyyyyyyyy!!! 🙂  Such crazy fun and what an interesting glimpse of a major cultural difference!  First the trinkets:


…next, a perfectly themed Yuri Gagarin t-shirt!  Evgeny is an astrophysicist: one of our earliest conversations was about the Cold War Space Race.

Maggie arrived home while I was opening the final item and we nearly killed ourselves laughing. Gender roles are alive and kicking in Moscow…bigtime!


I’ve been around a long time, and no man in his right mind has ever given me an apron!  Apparently this is high praise from a Russian male so I won’t smack him with a frying pan; couldn’t reach that high anyway!! 🙂

I’ve been enjoying this entire experience so much I began studying Russian two months ago.  Slow going, but I’m getting better at cadence and recognizing which cyrillc syllables are stressed when I see words in print.  However, to express yourself well, you REALLY need to understand complicated grammar rules…so I bought these:


До следующего раза! (until next time!)

🙂 🙂 🙂


Related articles

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

This week’s challenge asks for photos of serenity, and nothing fits better than images of the Louvre from mid Septermber!

Louvre, September 2014

The sky was beautiful and blue, the temperature a balmy 73F, and the setting absolutely enchanting!

Louvre 2, September 2014

(Click to enlarge gallery photos)

We finished the day with a stroll aross the Seine.  Serenity to the max!

Seine, Paris, September 2014

Everything about our two days in Paris was tranquil and serene. 🙂 In contrast, the trip from Gard du Nord back to Brighton? Not so much! 😉

Gare du Nord, Paris, Eurostar

Opposite of serenity? Travelling back to Brighton!

I loved Paris…getting real excited to explore it again this spring!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Mother of Millions

One of my favorite winter bloomers is putting on a show this week:

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

Bryophyllum houghtonii, January 2015

As the common name “mother of millions” suggests, B. houghtonii propagates vegetatively (profusely!) via tiny plantlets that form along the leaf edges. Click this  previous post  to see a plantlet, and this one for information about the flower heads.

Until next time….

🙂 🙂 🙂

Shipwreck “Houses of Refuge”

Vero Beach is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, an area well known for shipwrecks during the 18th-19th centuries.  As the region became more populous, Houses of Refuge sprang up to assist survivors. The first safe haven was founded at Bethel Creek (now Jaycee Beach) in 1876 and looked like this in 1914:

All Houses of Refuge were built alike and included a main house, cistern, and boathouse. They were placed within 15‐20 miles of each other, assuring those who washed ashore might find help within a day’s walk.

In 2012, I unknowingly photographed the remains of Bethel Creek’s safe haven for use in Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry.   Last week I noticed a newly placed historical marker by the foundation blocks:

Bethel Creek House of Refuge remains, Vero Beach

John Houston was the first keeper of Bethel Creek but 18 more quickly followed before the refuge burned in 1917. Historical documents cite boredom and poor health as reasons for the rapid turnover but perhaps less than $400.00 per year compensation had an impact, too!  Interesting to note: during this era, the most memorable shipwrecks were the USS Panama (1887) whose hold full of textiles benefitted the rescuers, and the Breconshire (1894) whose boiler off Humiston Park is now a popular diving spot.

I’ve always been fascinated by history and was thrilled to stumble across this historical marker. In closing, here’s a closeup of the marker and a different angle on the remains.

Until next time…
🙂 🙂 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: January in Florida

“To see a world in a grain of sand…

Sandcastle, Jaycee Beach, 1/6/15

And a heaven in a wild flower…

Hibiscus, Vero Beach

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand…

TC, Jack, Me, Rita, Dave Disney Vero Beach Resort, 1/05/15

And eternity in an hour…

William Blake (1757–1827), British poet, painter, engraver. Auguries of Innocence, l. 1-4, Poems from the Pickering Manuscript (c. 1803), repr. In Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (1957)

Happy New Year!!!

🙂 🙂 🙂


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Blog Friends!

I feel so fortunate to have my entire family here for the holidays (first time in 4 years!)  TC arrived a week ago from Los Angeles and Jack, two days ago from Boston! They’re both here for another two weeks and we’ve been laughing non-stop! Such a reminder of what life was like when they were kids!  mulhernchristmaseve



From our family to yours, Merry, Merry Christmas!!  I hope you all have a fantastic day!

Until next time…

🙂 🙂 🙂