I’ve only seen these huge hibiscus blooms in my mom’s yard. Pink, red, and white, they stand out in glorious display, flamboyant among their neighbor roses and irises. Honestly, they freaked me out a little at first, because the span of these gorgeous things is borderline alarming. My first thought was where did they come from? Three Mile Island?

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But, no, long ago she stopped by the house of an acquaintance, which was the only place she’d ever seen them, and came away with seeds. The picture above is how they look as they open, fresh and practically glowing with dewy color.

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The blooms only last a short time. Early morning opening segues all too briefly through several stages of beauty. Fully open they’re as big as dinner plates, with almost pleated petals that remind me of colorful paper fans.
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Barley allowing proper time for admiration, they start to show signs of imperfection. A few ragged places somehow enhance their stunning beauty instead of marr it.

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Soon insects move in, as the massive petals begin to droop. Shadings of pink accent stark white, while the deep ruby throat displays a centerpiece that looks like its own flower.

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As the petals become less firm they begin to resemble billowing sails, while the wind withdraws its support.

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Almost at the end of their show, the blooms fold in on themselves. Looking as if someone attempted origami with the skirts of a princess’ ballgown, they bid silent farewell to the world they so briefly graced….

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…until all that remains is a furled flag of nature’s creativity. A skirt of exquisitely detailed palest pink, layering gracefully, as, in an unexpected swansong, a floral prima ballerina takes her final bow.

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