It is four o'clock in the afternoon on this Thursday, September 5, 2013. I am not referring to the time of day in the title above but to the sweet old fashioned flower by that name. I am remembering sticky, hot September afternoons many years ago when my sister and I sat on the swing in our screened front porch and made our own breeze as we pushed off with our feet to swing back and forth. There was no air conditioning inside the house, so the shaded porch with its green painted wood floor and blue ceiling was as cool as we were going to get unless we ran through the sprinkler. I can hear the creaking of the chains which held the swing, the song of the Katydids in the Chinaberry tree, and see the shrubbery nestled up against the house on Sunset Street. Sitting on the porch meant being close to the flowers. Mother's flower beds held huge hydrangea bushes in the back yard, forsythia, Hawthorne, and a few rose bushes with annuals like Bachelor Buttons and Touch Me Nots and Old Maids in between. But in front, just on the outside of the porch screens, Cape Jasmine and Four O'Clocks thrived.
I loved watching for Four O'Clock flowers to open in the evening air, knowing they would close by the next morning. I liked to pick the flowers, careful not to tear them at the base, and stack them in rows, making decorations and necklaces. I can smell their fragrance, light with a hint of vanilla, and feel the cool tissue papery petals. They came in all colors - magenta, yellow, white, but the coral of the flower in this photo is the one I remember best. When they went to seed, the hard round black nubs were easy to collect and replant.
I think the seeds of loving to garden were collected and planted while I was stacking the Four O'Clocks.