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The first flower of the Hanging Hibiscus (Hibiscus schizopetalus) is cause for celebration. The L&M’s gardening efforts are paying off. What’s more I saw a butterfly hovering near the flower. That’s truly promising.

The flowers I like are the kind that draw in birds and butterflies. The L&M is okay with any flower that looks beautiful. That’s where our views diverge. What’s a flower, however beautiful it may be if it is shunned by birds and/or butterflies, I ask. Not that I totally write their kind off as unnecessary. Of course, they are pleasing to the eye and have their place in the scheme of things.

The hibiscus looks pretty hanging against the backdrop of the iron grill of the compound wall. I must admit when I first saw it, I was surprised it had escaped the notice of the notorious flower thieves who frequent our colony. Had they really missed it, or were they waiting for the bush to have more blooms so they could then steal with abandon and offer the flowers to their gods to propitiate them?

The hanging hibiscus being native to tropical eastern Africa, I wonder about the flower’s journey across the seas. Who brought it to India and when? Did it come over by land or sea? And all those beautiful names, who gave them? Fringed rosemallow, Japanese lantern, coral hibiscus, and spider hibiscus? Not the last one though. Spider hibiscus? Pah! By the way in Malayalam we call it, thookku chembarathi, the ‘chembarathi’ in it being hibiscus.

© Shail Mohan 2020