Words by Jessica Peace
The 1930’s saw the first hibiscus flowers splattered over what we now call the ‘Hawaiian shirt’. Artist Elsie Das handpainted the original designs and after a Japanese manufacturer f’d up and printed her hibiscus on heavy silk, it got sent to Hollywood were it was draped over Ginger Rogers and mates in dressing rooms and brought to the screen.
In the early noughties author and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave the world her novel, Purple Hibiscus. Set in Nigeria, the novel follows the young Kambili Achike through her turbulent family life and wider religious and political goings on with many references to freedom and the natural world.
In Siouxsie and the Banshees, ‘Green Fingers’ (1982), Siouxsie wails, ‘Hibiscus head/ In a flower bed/...Oh, magic in her hands/ She could make anything grow/ … She had green fingers…’ Punk gardener’s ANTHEM.