Vibrant red petals and soft blooms mark the Hibiscus with a unique energy that distinguishes it from other inhabitants of a garden bed. "I was at Festival des Fleurs at Blackham Coliseum in 1999 when I was really drawn to a beautiful red Hibiscus," says Sandra Theall, a charter member of the Mark Bernard Acadiana Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society. Theall is one of 20 local amateur gardeners who deemed the Hibiscus worthy of its own organization when the Acadiana Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society was founded in 2000. The society is a nonprofit group dedicated to perfecting the cultivation and growth of different varieties of this exotic flower.

The group meets monthly to ensure that members have the latest information regarding the growth, hybridization and grafting of the Hibiscus plant. The Acadiana chapter has more than doubled since its founding, now claiming nearly 50 active members.

Theall and her peers hope to recruit new Hibiscus devotees this weekend, when gardeners and plant lovers from around Louisiana will gather at Cathedral Carmel High School on Sunday, June 24, for the seventh annual Hibiscus Show and Sale. The show will feature a wide variety of Hibiscus species (between 400-500 different blooms) as well as special fertilizers and Hibiscus care books and is open to professional growers and amateurs alike. The Acadiana Hibiscus Society also welcomes visitors to its regular meetings at the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month from March through November.

Theall hopes new visitors will be inspired the way she was the first time she saw a Hibiscus. "It reminded me of the flowers that little Hawaiian girls wear in their hair," she says.


The Seventh Annual Hibiscus show and plant sale takes place from 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, June 24, at the Cathedral Carmel gym. Admission is free. Call 893-0064 for more info.

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