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68th annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale to be held on Father’s Day

June 12, 2019
By MEGHAN BRADBURY (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

For the first time in 68 years, the James E. Hendry Annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale will be held on Father's Day, Sunday, June 16, two weeks later than usual.

The event, which will feature more than 600 hybrid plants for sale, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Araba Shrine Temple, 2010 Hanson St. in Fort Myers. There will be free admission and parking for the event.

"The event will showcase hundreds of different hybrid hibiscus blooms in a variety of colors and forms, which will be judged in several different classes including amateur, collector, open collector, commercial and seedlings," President Jack Bernatz said in a prepared statement.

Article Photos

A bloom called Byron Metts will be on sale during Sunday’s James E. Hendry Annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale.

PHOTO PROVIDED

James E. Hendry Chapter Treasurer Charlotte Harff said they will have 50 different varieties of hibiscus for sale, which are being brought from their grower, Sun-Fire Nurseries out of Sarasota.

Some of the hybrid plants will include Black Jack; Bridgette; Byron Metts; Cajun Paprika; Daddy's Angel; Groovy Grape; Lemon Kisses; Mother Nature; Nectar Pink and Imperial Dragon.

Organizers will set up the plants Saturday morning, so the can showcase pictures of every plant for sale.

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"We are excited about it. It should be a really good day, the 68th annual Hibiscus Show and Plant Sale," Harff said.

They usually have at least three of their expert members in attendance for those who have questions about the plants. In addition, Harff said they give out a hibiscus care sheet and have tables with information about the flower.

Members receive a $5 discount off each plant purchased.

Lehigh Acres resident Wes Rowe, originally from New Jersey, attended a flower show at Harborside, so he could learn what to put in his garden.

"I came down to find out what I could put in my garden to flourish instead of roses because roses had so many diseases on it," he said. "I went to the Harborside flower show and that is how I met the wonderful people of the hibiscus club. That was in 2002, 2003. I had just built my house and was trying to set my garden."

As a native of Jamaica, Rowe was accustomed to hibiscus, a flower that almost grew wild.

"I was intrigued to look at the hibiscus society and do the ones that are hybrids instead of the ones that I am accustomed to," he explained.

That desire turned into almost 60 hibiscus hybrids, which have all been purchased from the annual show and plant sale.

"I usually buy at the show. It helps the society carry out its program and some of that is used to give contributions to the local organizations that we have," Rowe said.

Rowe said he likes to sit and look at his hibiscus through his window.

"Plant off the house, so you can look at it. A lot of us make the mistake of landscaping on the house, right on the wall. Landscaping should be off, so when you sit you can look at them," he said.

Fort Myers Beach resident Chuck Grey said he is a fairly new member of the club and an amateur when it comes to hibiscus. He got involved in the chapter after attending one of the sales because he thinks the hibiscus is a beautiful flower.

"They were signing people up for memberships and I thought it would be a good idea," Grey said. "It has helped me quite a bit. They do send me a lot of notices."

Some of the emails share information about cross breeding and germinating, which Grey confessed he does not personally do.

The beach resident has about a dozen garden variety hibiscus around his house.

"Nothing really fancy, or special, just things we put in when we redid the landscape," Grey said, adding he has reds, yellows and peachy orange colors. "This year, when they have the next sale, I do plan on getting at least a couple of them."

The 4-inch plants are $10 for members and $15 for the general public and three gallon planters are $25 for members and $30 for the general public during the annual sale. Individuals can join the James E. Hendry Chapter the day of the event to receive the discount.

"I got addicted to hibiscus through my daddy (Woodrow Watson)," Past President Wanda Schmoyer said, adding that she is honored to have the plant sale on Father's Day. "My daddy was the reason I got involved. We have a bloom this year, 'Daddy's Angel.' It is beautiful, a pink and white beautiful bloom. Why don't you come down to the show . . . take your daddy out to lunch and buy him a special hibiscus for Father's Day."

In addition to the plants, free raffle tickets will be given away every 30 minutes for gift certificates from an assortment of businesses.

Harff, and her husband, Bernatz, both Cape Coral residents, joined the chapter in 2005 after meeting Barbara Oster, a member of the chapter, when they decided to volunteer at the Cape Coral Hospital.

"She was in the hibiscus club and she said why don't you guys join? We had one hibiscus plant at that time that came from Miami," Harff said. "She said, 'you don't have to do anything but go to the Christmas Party,' so we finally joined the club. One thing led to another and Jack is the president and I am the treasurer."

The couple now has approximately 50 hibiscus. Many of their plants have been started from seeds and sprigs. She said it is easier if someone brings a piece of their plant to grow.

"You can gain a lot of hibiscus plants in 14 years. We love it, especially starting it from sprouts and growing and making more plants out of the ones we have," she said. "We always get someone at the meeting teaching hybridizing. It is a lot of fun. It's fun to see them bloom . . . a day, or maybe two if you are lucky. They are not the garden variety. The garden variety lasts a little bit longer. It's just fun to see what you can grow."

Bernatz said it was an honor to be asked to be the president of the chapter, which is a two-year term.

"I have enjoyed it and I'm happy that I can help us get to better places in the way that we operate," he said.

Some of the things he has been working on is going to their grower directly for the show, as well as giving out three scholarships annually. One of the recipients is a faith garden group, which teaches mostly youths how to grow vegetables and harvest them.

"It's a good teaching tool for young people to spend their time wisely," Bernatz said.

Rowe is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Lehigh, which has 21 4-by-8-foot raised beds set on concrete blocks.

"We grow vegetables for the food bank and for the Mision Teniel in Immokalee. I get volunteers from East Lehigh High School and the kids come from the JROTC troop there," Rowe said. "They help me grow these vegetables. So far this season we have done about 190 pounds of vegetables, 113 pounds to Lehigh Community Services and 77 pounds to Mision Teniel. This is one of the silent things that happens. Normally we do it behind the scenes."

Some of the crop includes Chinese cabbage, green beans and papaya.

"I am particularly happy with what we do for Community Services in Lehigh Acres. Normally they are elderly people and they get this supplement and get some of the vitamins that they are lacking," Rowe said of fresh produce.

The garden has been an ongoing project for three years. He said this is the first year the hibiscus society has stepped into funding the scholarship to three of the students that work with them in the garden. Three scholarships will be awarded in the amount of $500 to students who help with the garden.

"In addition to volunteering to do this work, they get credit for community service hours, which will help them get into college," Rowe said. "We do this on a Saturday morning between 9:30 and 12:30. Now we are putting in zucchini and sweet squash. We have peppers and are putting in green beans."

Harff encourages people to join their chapter.

"We always have speakers and how to at our meetings. They can certainly bring their questions and concerns. We meet at 2166 Virginia Avenue in Fort Myers. We meet on the second Sunday of the month . . . summer we are off," Harff said.

The next meeting will be held Sunday, Oct. 13, at 1:30 p.m., at The Berne Davis Botanical Garden, 2166 Virginia Ave.

For more information, visit www.hendrychapterhibiscus.com.

 
 

 

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