Marian Carcache: Four O’clocks not distinctly Southern

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The Four O’Clocks that bloom all summer in my backyard are one of the joys of warm weather for me. They were here when I bought the property 28 years ago.

I’ve always considered the sweet-scented Four O’Clocks to be “old-timey” flowers, and most of the garden blogs I’ve read seem to agree. I mistakenly also thought of them as distinctively Southern, but learned that the plant grows wild in the Andes.

As a matter of fact, another name for the beautiful flowers is “Marvel of Peru,” due to the fact that several colors of blooms can appear on a single plant (with the exception of the hybrids which have had all the wildness and “marvel” bred out of them).  Over time, my original fuchsia blooms have added yellow and white, as well as some variegated blooms, to their palette.

While Four O’Clocks aren’t necessarily “Southern by birth,” they were “pass along” plants that friends and neighbors shared with one another a couple of generations ago in the South.  I certainly have sweet memories of the ones in Jernigan when I was growing up.

So every summer afternoon, around four o’clock, I am treated to a stunning visual display of blooms and a delicious jasmine-like fragrance that brings back the past.  That’s “happy hour” for me, and the nocturnal moths and other nighttime pollinators seem to agree.

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