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Flowers A Closer Look

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March 15, 2014
When we look at flowers in our landscapes, it's understandable that the colorful petals get most of the attention. But in today's Southern Gardening segment, let's take a little closer look at our garden flowers. The arrangement of the pistil and stamen of flowers is critical for seed production via pollination, but it is not the same in every flower. I think hibiscus has an unusual arrangement of the pistil and stamens. The pistil of this Cajun hibiscus is the center structure, surrounded by the swirl of stamens, resembling a yellow bottle brush. Native azaleas bloom on nearly naked stems in the spring. The flowers can be up to 1½ inches across, but it is the way the stamens and pistil extend out of the flower that I find most attractive. Another plant with really long stamens is cleome. I have always loved the tall plants with the flowers that I think look a little spidery, like these Sparkler White. For some, the pistil and stamen arrangement provides the plants name. Torenia is commonly called wishbone flower. The stamens, which contain the yellow pollen grains, form a structure that resembles a wishbone. Another example is blue butterfly plant, which has intricate flowers that actually resemble little blue butterflies in flight. I really like the way the stamens and pistil arch out and upward and remind you of eyelashes. Some flowers we grow and love are actually composed of many small flowers and still have pistils and stamens. Fireworks gomphrena looks like exploding fireworks with the yellow stamens poking out of the little flowers. So this spring and summer take time for a little closer look at the flowers in your garden. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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