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Florida Discoveries 4: Springtime on the Panhandle...Part I

You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: Florida Discoveries 4: Springtime on the Panhandle...Part I

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Florida Discoveries 4: Springtime on the Panhandle...Part I

I know, it's only March 10th, and many of my readers (I get 50 new visitors per day now, by the way!) are still sitting underneath snowpacks. But here on the Florida Panhandle, the brief winter* we had has definitely given way to spring: complete with thunderstorms, tornadoes, allergies and weeds! Things were brown when I left for Nebraska, and were green and pollen-ey when I returned 5 days later!

*YES -- we experienced a real winter here! It even snowed a little on Christmas Day in Pensacola!

I thought I'd share some pictures of the flora and fauna that have greeted us in the past couple weeks. Last year in Nebraska was especially fun, and I hope to get around the neighborhood more this weekend and capture some of the local redbuds.

First of all, upon my return from Nebraska on Feb. 27th, these shrubs in the front of the house had just started blooming:

From a distance, they look like azaleas, right? But that's not what they are. After some seemingly-random Googling of "pink flowers Florida Panhandle" and things like that, the term "Chinese Fringe Flower" appeared and I chose it. And there you go. This is the loropetalum plant, also known as "Chinese witch hazel" or "Chinese fringe flower".

I have two varieties in my front yard landscaping:

Here's one with my oldest son next to it for scale. The shrubs aren't very tall:

I went to my favorite resource for flora information, my friendly neighborhood Cooperative Extension Service! University of Florida's IFAS briefing on the loropetalum.

I was also curious about how long these plants had been used as landscaping, since I've NEVER seen them until now! Here's some historical information from Mississippi State's Cooperative Extension Service. Looks like only since the early 1990s.

If only this blog had Scratch-n-Sniff! The flowers are quite fragrant!

I'm particularly intrigued with the way the flower buds open up, reminding me of a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis, with the huge antennae uncoiling.

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