There's so much about our backyard that I can't wait to change. One thing that I'd like to keep, though, is the pink Mussaenda that stands just off the steps to our back porch. When we purchased our house a little over a year ago, the tree was full and bushy and covered in fluffy pink flowers. I'd only seen one other like it before, planted on campus, though not nearly as hearty.
This photo was taken in late October 2010. So beautiful! Well, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, Miami experienced some pretty frigid weather for this neck of the woods... a couple of nights it got down to 32-degrees! Brrr! (That's downright COLD in South Florida!)
Our lovely tree must have agreed, because just a few days later it dropped every. single. leaf. Gasp! If I didn't know better, I'd have thought it died. The only reason I know better is that the very same thing happened to it the winter before. The only difference was that last time it took months before any signs of life returned to its bare stick branches. We actually considered cutting it down at one point.
Thank goodness we didn't! By the summertime, the tree was healthy looking again and covered with fuzzy green leaves. Not long after that, flowers started to appear. Like Bougainvillea, the flowers on Mussaenda are much smaller than meets the eye. The colorful pink "petals" are actually bracts, or specialized leaves. The flower is really just the tiny star-shaped yellow center. Pretty tricky!