(Note the growing okra pod, red arrow. It will probably be ready to harvest in a week or so.)
A few months ago, we thought the okra in the Garden was not going to make it but now, in early fall, it is thriving! It’s over 5 ft tall and, as Elisabeth noted in her recent post, seems to be at a peak. Each day we can harvest a few okra, maybe three or four. We probably know them best as a key component to gumbos, they add a unique texture (some call it “slimy”). Some of my fellow gardeners love them, and some run screaming from them…though I don’t seek them out, I personally have no issue with them. I’d take a few okra over a watermelon – even one of our adorable miniature ones – any day. Vegetable controversies aside, the blossoms are truly gorgeous! When I mentioned how much they reminded me of those on shrubs I’d planted in my yard, somebody at the garden (..might have been CGO Mike?) mentioned that okra is related to hibiscus. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, okra is related not only to hibiscus, but to cocoa and cotton, and originated in West Africa. And, my “Rose of Sharon”* shrub belongs to the genus hibiscus, as I already knew. Reportedly, as I did not know, hibiscus syriacus is also the national flower of Korea (N. or S. was not specified), and its Korean name means “immortal flower”. That does not surprise me…one thing I love about these shrubs is how very long their blossoms last.
Well, as you can see in the photos there is clearly a strong family resemblance between the Okra and the Rose of Sharon. And, by the way, like the okra, my Rose of Sharon shrubs seem to be late bloomers this year. I’ve been watching all the round buds for weeks, wondering if they’d ever open before winter. But, they did and now, like our okra, they seem to be at their best!
*”Rose of Sharon” is a name shared by at least two different flowering shrubs, and another plant that is referenced in the bible.