After the tragic July 2007 home invasion and fire in Cheshire, CT, that took the lives of JENNIFER HAWKE-PETIT and her daughters, HAYLEY and MICHAELA, family members visited the home site to see if anything of value could be salvaged. Little was left.
One exception was the many flowers and foliage plants that Bill and MICHAELAhad planted and maintained over the years. One flower in particular was dear toMICHAELA—her Four O’Clocks. Because of that, the Four O’Clocks were dug up, brought to Plainville, CT and replanted.
Michaela’s Garden Project is designed to encourage area families and youth to become more involved in community service.
For the past three summers Michaela’s Four O’Clocks have been re-planted from harvested seeds. As a result, enough seeds have been collected to begin the Michaela’s Garden Project. The summer of 2010 was our first mass propagation effort. With the help of volunteer gardening enthusiasts, Cub Scout Pack 49 of Plainville, Cub Scout Pack 30 of Bristol and other area youth groups, we produced about 5,000 plants—all from Michaela’s original garden. The seeds from these plants were harvested, packed and are being sold in specially designed packs of 25 seeds as a fundraiser for the PETIT FAMILY FOUNDATION.
About Four O’Clocks
A favorite of MICHAELA’s, Four O’Clocks are sturdy, bushy plants with showy red, pink, yellow and white trumpet-shaped flowers. Some blooms are two-toned—usually yellow and white.
Four O’Clocks got their name because they open their flowers in mid-afternoon (about 4 o’clock). The blooms remain open overnight, and close in early morning. They are also known for their strong, aromatic fragrance,
Four O’Clocks are native to tropical areas of North and South America and are often called the “Marvel of Peru”. They are actually perennials that are grown in northern areas of the U.S. as annuals.
The dark green, bushy plants make an excellent hedge or border. Because the flowers are open during the evening and nighttime, the plants are often planted in areas where they will be seen during the early evening and morning hours.
Four O’Clocks are hardy plants, exhibiting good tolerances for dry conditions; however, plants will thrive if watered regularly, especially in dry weather. Where possible, plant in full sun and in well-composted soil. Add a general purpose fertilizer once a month to encourage vigorous growth. Bulbous roots may be dug up in the fall, cleaned and stored overwinter in the dark, in damp peat moss or sand.
Share the Love
You can help grow the project by planting and harvesting seeds. It’s easy to do. Each plant will set multiple blooms over a two to three month period. As each bloom emerges, matures, wilts and falls away, it will leave one seed—about the size of a peppercorn—which can be picked from the bract. Each plant will set dozens of seeds. During and after harvesting store seeds in a paper bag (not plastic) so that seeds can dry. Send us your harvested seeds and we will pack them for next year’s program. Every 25 seeds returned can mean $10 in additional support for the FOUNDATION.
The FOUNDATION’S funds are given to help foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences; to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses; and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence.