hibiscus and science
I've changed my route in search of gardeners and go in the opposite direction and find gardens still blooming and wild masses of plants. My neighbor, Sheri is a scientist at the U of M - her expertise in agronomy and plant genetics. You can tell by simply looking at her yard. She calls is messy. I find it wonderful. Sheri cultivates plants that interests her for her work and for her family, making sweet wines from her fruit trees and harvesting vegetables.
Sheri asks me about my art and I tell her about my interests in working with natural materials and what plants have been successful so far, and challenges, like the maggot infestation that occurred on my porch from donated acorns. Her tip- put the acorns in the freezer for a day to kill the larvae- this is what she does in her lab. She has a lot of valuable information to share! She points out many things, what I can take and what I cannot- as some plants she is using in her work. Rose hips are up for grabs- as she doesn't like the jelly you can make. Sheri introduces me to hibiscus. From the malvaceae family it is native to warm climates, and her plant is from a coworker that she planted in her front yard. With bright showy white flowers, the stalks and buds are a great contrast with dark shades of plums and purples. Hibiscus is also related to hollyhocks- which is on my list. The initial results are the most vibrant colors yet.
Like hollyhocks, some hibiscus has multiple pigments within the same plant and each plant can produce many different colors. Its difficult to pinpoint exactly which pigment will form a bond with the fibers in the paper- there is a chemical reaction or bond that needs to be further investigated- hopefully next summer as it seems i am running out of time as winter approaches.