Lake Fred

Lake Fred is an actual lake located in the flat pinelands of southern New Jersey. It is also one of my knicknames acquired while I was at college. There is (or was) a Lake Fred Folk Festival in the springtime.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Cherry Ice - Survival is Nice!

Before Hurricane Katrina, our most thirsty plant was the Cherry Ice hibiscus. No matter how often we watered Cherry Ice, the pot was always the first to dry out and have the plant wilt. Cherry Ice also likes to grow straight and tall. As part of our evacuation strategy, when we wedged all our plants into the back corner of yard behind the garage, the tallest plants go up against the fence. As such, Cherry Ice was put in the corner. On our initial trip back to Kenner, it had only dead leaves. We figured it had dried up and died. In the last weekend of October 2005, we cleaned up all the tree branches covering our patio in front of our garage. We had a little garden area between the driveway and our neighbor's fence off the patio. We had four in ground garden variety hibiscus and smaller flowering plants in this garden patch. After seven weeks of being underneath a six foot high pile of heavy oak tree branches, the little garden are had four badly damaged, but alive hibiscus, some Louisiana Iris and daylily leaves and that was it! We decided to bring out some of the bigger pots from behind the garage and fill in all the barren ground area of this little garden patch. As we retrieved plants in that northwest corner, we discovered that our Cherry Ice had not died; only the high branches that we could see were dead. The first foot of the plant was covered with a lot of vigorous new growth. Unbelievable! Cherry Ice’s bloom is one of the prettiest around. We have not had much success getting it to bloom, but when it does, like this May 2005 bloom, it is well worth the wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Where I was right before Katrina

This is where I lived from August 23rd through the 27th , 2005. This is the American Queen, the largest of three riverboats run by the Delta Steamboat Company out of New Orleans. I spent the week before Katrina, enjoying the splendor of the Mississippi River and its surroundings leaving from and returning to New Orleans.

Little did I know that as soon as I arrived back to New Orleans, I would be spending that Saturday, August 27th, packing up family photos and mementos for evacuation the following Sunday morning before Katrina, having little time to savor the steamboating experience on the river.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nights Scenes of LSU

Here are two more photos from our trip. The clock tower is prominent in the LSU night skyline. It is often used as a meeting place because it is easy to find.
This northward view from the nosebleed section of Tiger Stadium shows the I-10 Mississippi River Bridge lights over the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Geaux Tigers

On November 3, 2005, I attended my first LSU football game in years. As you can see from my halftime photo of the band spelling out LSU, you can see that I wasn't seated close to the field. The other photo from before the game outside Tiger Stadium shows the "Geaux Tigers" signs draped on the outside. The Tigers beat Appalachian State 24 to 0.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jean's Sunset - Jamila's Sister

These pictures are in reverse order showing the color changes this hibiscus bloom undergoes during the day. The bottom photo shows the bloom when it first opens is mostly pink, As the day goes on, the pinkness gets lighter and the outer edge becomes a pastel orange yellow as shown in the middle photo. The top photo is the end of the day when the pink is very faded and the outer edge is now more yellow.

This Patrick seedling is from the same 2002 pod that produced Jamila and Red Nectar. We call it Jean's Sunset as the colors are sunset colors. This upright bush has small leaves and thin branches. It blooms a lot, but never at show time. It almost died from Katrina as most of its leaves dried out and turned brown, but it resprouted new leaves and has come back complete with flower buds. On a few occasions, Father Gerlich has remarked that this was an interesting bloom. That's a great seal of approval!
We were able to get one cutting to root and produce a vigorous small bush. We gave it to a fellow collector to preserve the line in case of something bad happening to the original plant. Well, Katrina was bad and killed all the plants of my fellow collector friend. Now we are back to one plant.

Red Nectar - Jamila's Brother

This March 2005 hibiscus bloom is from a 2002 seedling from the same seed pod found on Patrick that produced Jamila. This plant took longer to get around to blooming. It produces a nice pinkish reddish bloom. For want of a better name, we call it Red Nectar because it is the same color as a Nectar New Orleans Snowball. (A snowball is a shaved ice summer treat that is flavored by colored syrup. There are seemingly hundreds of snowball flavors.) This plant is a frequent bloomer. It tends to want more water than its neighboring plants as we'll find it wilted in the pot from drying out. It has suffered some die back of branches, but it has yet to fully die back to the ground. It roots easily and after Katrina, I planted a cutting in the ground to try to save it since we had no water pressure. We'll see if it likes being in the ground instead of a pot.

Jamila - Lost Seedling to Katrina

This June 2005 hibiscus bloom is from a 2002 seedling from a seed pod found on Patrick. I imagine that the pod was self pollinated. The pod had a number of seeds that were fertile. We had a number that sprouted and produced a bloom or two before dying. We still have at least two others from that pod that are alive and well. I suspect that weak genes can be doubled and matched against themselves during self pollination and produce a weak plant. This plant was special because it was the first to bloom for us. It bloomed in the winter following its spring germination. It produced a purplish bloom. The plant almost died in 2003 and was saved by emergency grafting. This plant was the only graft that was successful. The crude graft was sealed with plastic food wrap and held together with a plastic and metal wire twist tie. It must have not liked Katrina's floodwater because it was dead when we returned to town and were able to extract it from underneath the tree debris behind our garage. We called it "Jamila" and may use that name again when we have a nice strong seedling with a pretty bloom.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

We Hit Water!

On September 5, 2005, which was the first day we were allowed back to our homes, we had to dig a hole to bury our garbage. Without electricity, all the refrigerated food had spoiled. With no garbage pickup available, the local government officials urged citizens to bury their garbage on their property. It was very hot and we started the tough job of digging a garbage hole. We weren’t able to go very deep before we hit water. Looking back at the calendar, even though it seemed like a long time before we were able to return, in reality it was only seven days after Hurricane Katrina had hit the area. We had floodwater for a number of days, so it is perfectly understandable to have such a high water table. You’ll notice the gloves on our hands to protect us from nasty bacteria. You can also see an old bottle we found during this excavation project.

Katrina Debris Pile On Street Curb

This is the second pile of debris we left on the curb. A similar sized pile was picked up a few weeks ago. The cut wood piled on the left is only about 20% of what actually was sitting on the curb for pickup. It would be great for someone with a fireplace; nicely cut oak wood. You'll notice the lean of the pine tree in the center of the photo. We've contacted the low bidder to have it cut. It's scheduled to be cut about five weeks after we agreed to have it cut. We all have to wait for things these days. You'll also note the light blue tarp on a roof on a house in the background. With so much roof damage in the area, these blue tarps used for temporary rain protection are commonplace. This picture was taken on November 6, 2005.

Katrina Debris Behind Garage

Here are three pictures of downed Live Oak tree branches that were blown onto my garage roof and into the area between my garage and the back fence by Hurricane Katrina viewed from both sides of my garage looking toward the street.
These photos were taken on September 5, 2005 on the first day we were allowed back to our homes. It would be November before we would be able to completely clear this area. There were many potted plants buried underneath all of this debris. If you look closely near the bottom of the bottom picture, you will see the top of an aluminum ladder that I normally store outside behind my garage.

Katrina Patio Debris Looking Down Driveway

This is a picture of the downed Water Oak tree branches that were blown into my patio and driveway by Hurricane Katrina viewed from the side of my garage looking toward the street.
The second photo is looking up my driveway from the street side. These photos were taken on September 5, 2005 on the first day we were allowed back to our homes. It would be mid-October before we would be able to completely clear this area.

Katrina Tree Debris in Patio

Here's a photo of the downed Water Oak tree branches that were blown into my patio and driveway by Hurricane Katrina. The big house in the picture is my neighbor's home. They had an old TV antenna and a new satellite dish knocked off into the debris. Against the fence under the debris are hibiscus bushes and other assorted flowering plants. This photo was taken on September 5, 2005 on the first day we were allowed back to our homes. It would be mid-October before we would be able to completely clear this area.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Time For Magic

Here are two views of an April 2005 bloom of the cultivar Time For Magic. It is the other parent of Magic Moments. We really like this variety. This particular plant has never bloomed for us on a show day, but it seems to bloom for others and often wins a spot on the headtable. It is a cup and saucer bloom as illustrated in the top picture. In cooler months it blooms yellow and white. In the warmer months, a greenish hue is the predominant feature. This particular bloom is halfway between the two phases, so it has a hint of the green over the inner parts of the yellow.

Bob Harkins

This is the Bob Harkins hibiscus cultivar. It produces a nice large orange red bloom on a vigorous bush. It grows readily from cuttings. I planted one in the ground last year and it quickly grew to a good size in one year producing many blooms. It seemed to enjoy being in the ground as opposed to being in a pot. I was looking forward to next summer when it would truly be a full size bush, however, Katrina had other plans. Floodwater killed my Bob Harkins in the ground. All the other hibiscus along that side of my driveway survived. I would assume that Bob Harkins does not tolerate wet roots over an extended period of time. Luckily, I had at least two other Bob Harkins bushes in pots that survived. This photo is from the smaller potted plant taken in April 2005.

Please Help Mt. Carmel

Off to the right is my Links. One is named "Saving Mt. Carmel". The normal site for the annual New Orleans Hibiscus Show is the Duplantis Gymnasium of Mt. Carmel Academy, which is located in the Lakeview section of New Orleans near the famous 17th Street Canal breech of Hurricane Katrina. This link will show you before, during, and after flood pictures including the Duplantis gym. Mt. Carmel Academy is one of New Orleans' premier Catholic girls high schools. They have been dealt a mighty blow, but are well supported in the community. Sister Camille is much beloved and will see the school resume its rightful role in the community. At the bottom of the linked page is an address for your contributions. It is a worthy cause. Thank you. God bless you.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Safe Against The Fence

We had placed plants all along the back fence behind my garage. That area was covered by about ten feet of oak tree branches and debris. In this picture, it is the shaded area to the left going out of the picture. About eighteen days after Katrina, we cut a path along the fence and pulled out our bushes, until we rescued all that we could rescue. We placed them against the fence under a big crepe myrtle for shade from the hot sun.
They look pretty good in these pictures taken two weeks after they were removed from the debris. The pinkish bloom in the picture is from the cultivar Wine & Roses. It is a delicate bloom as the edges burn before the bloom fully opens. It is one of the parents (along with Time For Magic) of Magic Moments, a Father Gerlich hybridization that was a Best of Show Seedling winner, now in the running for Hibiscus of the Year. Since I received this rather large bush from Father Gerlich when he left for a long research trip to Europe, this particular bush may actually be the parent plant of Magic Moments.

Hibiscus Spot for Katrina

This is where we tried to save our hibiscus when we evacuated from Katrina. We wedged the plants into a protected corner of my yard behind my garage. We put the tallest plants in the corner, then the next tallest, in order to the smallest. We placed pot against pot, and on the outer edges, we placed flat trays with multiple pots. The corner was the northwest corner with a garage building up near both fences. The area was shaded by the branches of a Live Oak and a Water Oak in our neighbors' yards. In these pictures you see hardly any shade as Katrina had removed the shading branches. These pictures were taken about four weeks after the storm. At the height of the flooding, these plants were under water. The empty green pots had had cuttings placed in perlite. The cuttings and the perlite both floated away in the floodwater. When the water receded, the cuttings died. For the first two weeks, these plants received little water as it did not rain until Hurricane Rita made a visit. For the next three week, we watered the plants when we made periodic visits to the house. There was not a permanent move back into the house until five weeks after Katrina.
In retrospect, we did very well in saving our plants. We have been very busy, so we have not been able to inventory our plants to see what was saved and what was lost. We had roughly 75 varieties before the storm. I believe that we'll have between 65 to 70 varieties when it is over. We had about half of the varieties growing in the ground, of which only three have died (Kona, Sahara Wind and Bob Harkins), but we had duplicates of those varieties in pots, so we avoided losing those cultivars. That's a good thing as I really liked all three of those cultivars. I'll try to feature pictures of these three varieties in upcoming posts real soon.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Golden Dust

This bloom is a garden variety hibiscus called Golden Dust. It must have been overcast when I snapped this photo, making the background appear blue. I love this picture just for the colors. I had this Golden Dust a number of years, but sadly it got beat up by Tropical Storm Cindy. I tried to splint the broken branches with bamboo shishkabob skewers and duct tape. It wasn't doing too well when Katrina hit. It lived for a short while after the flood waters receded, but it did not survive. At least I have this great picture from March 23, 2005.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This set of Patrick hibiscus blooms shows color change through the day. It may have some seasonality in it also. The top bloom from January 2005 has just opened and is a deep pink throughout. The second bloom from June 2005 is from the end of the day where the pink has faded exposing a yellowish outer edge border. The Patrick cultivar exhibits this color change through the day regardless of the season. The January bloom may be a little richer in color due to the cooler weather and the June bloom may fade more than a winter bloom due to longer and richer sun exposure. The Patrick is a great plant. It roots easily and is a prolific bloomer. For hybridizing it is a good fertile mother plant, setting and producing many seeds. Overall it is one of my favorites because it possesses many good qualities. This plant survived Katrina both in the ground and in pots. It must've liked the contents of the floodwater, because it was full of blooms when we were first allowed back to our home two weeks after the storm.


This shows how temperature can affect the coloration of blooms. These blooms are from a recent Bobby Dupont cultivar he named Magnifique. The first bloom is an April 2005 bloom which shows the color from one of its parents, Wheel of Fortune. The second bloom is during the heat of June 2005. It's hard to believe that these blooms are from the same bush! The bloom of this flower has so many petals that it takes days for it to open. I had one bloom that had the petals that opened the on the first day, start dying while the bloom was still opening fully on a later day. This plant survived Katrina.