by Naomi Mathews
Copyright July 1998 by Naomi Mathews -- all rights reserved.
During the romantic Victorian era, it was doubtless the fondest dream of most brides to carry fresh bouquets of fragrant white orange blossoms on their wedding day. These lovely bouquets were so fashionable that myriads of their blossoms were transported nationwide from Florida just to accommodate brides. Delicate fresh garlands of these enchanting blossoms were also fashioned into elegant little circlets, then attached to bridal veils. A simple perfumed orange blossom garland was often used (and still is!) to adorn a bride's hair if she chose not to wear a veil, making a lovely tiara.
When it's orange blossom time in Florida, the quintessence of these waxy white blossoms literally permeates the atmosphere, especially in central and southern Florida. Orange blossoms are indeed one of the most fragrant flowers in Florida, and have even been used in making a commercial perfume.
Although not native to North America, the orange blossom was designated as Florida's official state flower on May 5, 1909. Gardenias and camellias had also been suggested as candidates for this honor. However, the beautiful and aromatic orange blossom was obviously the preference of Floridians.
The state of Florida has many nicknames, and with good reason. Although its true nickname--The Sunshine State--was officially adopted in 1970, Florida is also called the Orange State, the Everglades State, and the Alligator State. But did you know that Florida was really first named "La Florida" by the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon on April 2, 1513? Research reveals that the name "La Florida" honors Pasqua de Flores--the Spanish Feast of the Flowers held during Eastertime.
Since Florida was the first state of America to be named, it seems very appropriate that her name was inspired by flowers. It is also very fitting that Florida carries yet another nickname -- The Land of Flowers. Indeed, Florida's fragrant orange blossom bouquets will always be beloved by true Floridians, and by beautiful brides everywhere!
Coreopsis: Florida's Designated Wildflower
Research shows that the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. spent several years gathering data on native species of coreopsis in Florida. As a result of their research, they learned that there were about a dozen different varieties of coreopsis that were native to Florida. The bright yellow color of these native coreopsis was likely influential in it being later recommended to be Florida's official wildflower.
It isn't surprising that in 1991 the Florida state legislature did actually designate the colorful yellow native coreopsis as the Sunshine State's official wildflower. This designation also followed the state of Florida's highway beautification program, when the coreopsis was widely used for roadside plantings.
When my husband and I recently visited in the Orlando and Central Florida area, we were also captivated by the many thousands of profusely blooming coreopsis. They seemed to be everywhere, nodding their cheerful yellow blossoms to us in true southern hospitality fashion.
Not all coreopsis blossoms are yellow, however. They bloom in a range of colors from bright lemon yellow to a deep golden color, and there is also a lovely pink variety. Neither do all coreopsis blossoms have single petals as some varieties sport double or ruffled petals, offering gardeners yet another choice for their flower gardens.
10 Easy-Care Perennials This booklet will introduce you to 10 beautiful perennials that are undemanding, wonderfully versatile, and adaptable to a variety of growing conditions. Theyre not particularly fussy about soil conditions, and they can tolerate both drought and overwatering, as long as they have adequate drainage. These wonders of the perennial world grow quickly, require little maintenance, and reward you with a kaleidoscope of color and gorgeous foliage year after year.
If I were to choose my favorite, I would choose the "Early Sunrise" Coreopsis. This variety is a hardy perennial in USDA Zones 4-9, and likes to be planted in full sun. "Early Sunrise" has large semi-double blooms of golden-yellow that bloom from early summer until frost in the late fall. Their flower stems grow to a height of 20 to 24 inches, and are absolutely stunning. They would be splendid planted in drifts for an English country garden look, or would look great as a border against a tall fence with colorful lower growing annuals or perennials in front of them.
Since I dearly love having pink flowers in my garden, my second choice of coreopsis varieties would simply have to be the "Coreopsis Rosea." Another great perennial, the Coreopsis rosea is hardy in USDA Zones 6a to 9a. The C. rosea has finely textured leaves and pastel pink blossoms with yellow centers. Their blossoms are very similar to those of the daisy. Unlike some of their close relatives, such as the C. grandiflora that thrives in full sun and more dryish soil, the C. rosea prefers full sun with more moist soil. This lovely variety grows from 12 to 18 inches in height. I can visualize a wide flower bed planted with C. rosea in drifts, mixed with a host of other colors for a more casual garden look. Butterflies would definitely be attracted to their blossoms, and in the fall their seeds would make a tasty treat for many birds.
For a slightly different look, you may want to choose "Moonbeam" for your garden. Coreopsis verticillata "Moonbeam" is a wonderful hardy perennial. It sports bright lemon yellow blossoms with brownish colored centers. Its blossom stems reach a height of 18 to 24 inches and they will bloom
profusely throughout the summer. "Moonbeam" is very easy to care for, enjoys full sun, and makes a splendid, colorful display in flower beds. It is lovely when planted in drifts or also works well as a stunning border. This variety would also make a great container plant, perhaps mixed with some trailing blue lobelia and white sweet alyssum cascading over the edges of your favorite container.
These are just a few of my favorites of the genus Coreopsis; however, you may find others you like much better. So, if you're ever in the beautiful "Sunshine State" of Florida and you happen to be cruising around the countryside, you can't help but see the many flowering plantings of Florida's Official Wildflower--the sunny Coreopsis. They certainly do make for a lovely scenic drive on most any highway or byway!