Monday, August 27, 2012

Zany Zinnias


The rains arrived again on Saturday with substantial enough amounts to add a tinge of green to the grasses along the hiway. The rains seem to appear as the season changes and towns are having their annual harvest fairs. Saturday Hinton received a deluge as the grateful crowd dispersed, happily drenched to the bone.

With the fair comes the flower show where entrants choose the most perfect specimen in the garden to enter in hopes of winning a blue ribbon. The categories include the darling Zinnia, whose dutiful countenance is bound to cheer the garden even during a drought. The bright and shining little zinnia originated in Mexico where it was considered a weed.

There is record of the first seeds arriving in Europe around 1627 however the Zinnia remained in quiet obscurity until 1750 when the seeds called mal de ojos were sent by the European Ambassador to Johann Gottfried Zinn. Although Zinn died at only 32, his contributions to science were vast including the first detailed study of the human eye.

Respect for him was so universal that a colleague, famed botanist Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern botany and ecology, designated a genus of flower as Zinnia in his honor.

Typical of most flowers originating in Mexico, Zinnias come in an array of colors which resemble a traditional serape and cover the entire color spectrum. The colors are bold and range from intense yellow, bright orange, rocket red, rose and fuchsia, with an occasional pink. There is nothing pastel about a Zinnia! There are both miniature and giant varieties, domed and flat petaled… all are drought tolerant and like it hot. Their somewhat funky coarse foliage is not attractive to many insects so they are a sturdy and steadfast addition to the garden

The Zinnia will bloom from mid summer until the first frost and attract a multitude of butterflies and bees. Pick a bouquet in the morning and the flowers will remain fresh for a week or more. Unfussy and among the easiest of flowers to grow, the Zinnia has remained a popular addition to the garden for over a hundred years. Children love to plant and pick them!