If you're looking to add a splash of color to your yard or garden, consider a visit to Sunken Gardens for a little inspiration.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, St. Petersburg's botanical oasis will host a festival to celebrate the hibiscus, a flowering plant that is perfect for Florida's tropical climate.
"Hibiscus are quite drought tolerant, which makes them a great addition to the Florida garden," said Bill O'Grady, a supervisor at Sunken Gardens. "They come in all colors except for true blue and black, and even those colors are very close."
Hibiscus experts Don Mixon and Kathy Grandoff will have more than 800 hybrid hibiscus plants, representing more than 250 varieties, on display and available for purchase. (That's a Louisiana Flash above.)
For those interested in educating themselves about the hibiscus, Grandoff will lead a session called "Propagating Hybrid Hibiscus" at noon, and Mixon will share a little of his expertise at 2 p.m. in a session called "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hibiscus." Both talks will be in the Oak Pavilion.
Inside the main building at 1 p.m., Jeanne Houlton, an expert in Japanese flower arranging, will give a demonstration using hibiscus in ikebana arrangements.
Children can get their faces painted and take in one of Captain Tut's bird shows in the Oak Pavilion, where the Pirate Parrots will entertain and educate.
Vendors will sell orchids, bromeliads, tropical plants and more. St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market vendors will be sprinkled throughout the gardens offering wares ranging from ceramics to hand-painted clothing, jewelry and garden art.
O'Grady, who has been a horticulturist since he started hybridizing plants at the age of 12, has worked at Sunken Gardens for 10 years. He enjoys sharing his passion for and expertise about the plant kingdom. The hibiscus, he notes, is one of the most highly hybridized plants in the world. "They are available in a myriad of shapes and sizes," and "the flowers are edible, so they make a great garnish for a dinner party."
In addition to celebrating the hibiscus, O'Grady hopes those who visit the festival enjoy the beauty of the gardens and perhaps walk away with ideas for starting a garden at home.
"There is something almost spiritual about nurturing plants and watching them thrive," he said. "In addition, a home garden can produce delicious fruits and vegetables, while getting in some good, healthy fresh air and exercise!"
Bridal Showcase: Make your wedding the dream it should be with a showcase featuring vendors of wedding-related services, food and beverage samples, door prizes and more. Noon to 3 p.m. St. Pete Beach Community Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive. Free. Call (727) 363-9245.
Tampa Bay Living Green Expo: Provides real solutions for people to live better, healthier lives with less impact on the environment. The expo connects people who are interested in making a positive difference in their lives and in their communities. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free. Visit pinellaslivinggreenexpo.org or call (727) 892-5202.
Pinellas Pepper Fest: Fire up the taste buds with hot and spicy foods, sauces and salsas to sample and purchase, plus pepper plants, pepper-related items, crafts, barbecue and more for sale. Also live music and family fun. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. England Brothers Bandshell Park, 5010 81st Ave. N, Pinellas Park. $2 admission, no charge for kids 12 and under. Visit yourhotsaucecompany.com or call (727) 423-8433.
Celebrate Pride at American Stage: An evening of theater and pride with an exclusive performance of David Mamet's November, followed by a private party with live entertainment, desserts and drinks, and a post-show meet-and-greet. Sponsored by Outings and Adventures, the evening offers a unique opportunity to get a closer look at what's involved in getting a theater production staged. Proceeds benefit St. Pete Pride. 7 p.m. American Stage Theatre Company at Raymond James Theater, 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $25.99, includes party pass. Call (727) 823-7529.
Jewelry show and networking: Check out the latest designs by Lia Sophia Jewelry while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Benefits the Pinellas Suncoast Chapter of the Women's Council of Realtors. 5:30 p.m. Red Mesa Cantina, 128 Third St. S, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 896-6372 or visit wcrpinellas.com.
Coffee Talk: An interactive performance by Nan Colton followed by a docent tour. Scheduled for this date: Ms. Colton's Remembering Anne Frank's Birthday: Miep Gies honors the courageous woman who hid the Franks from the Nazis in Amsterdam and preserved Anne's diary for the world. She recently
died at 100. 10 a.m. Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg. Included with museum admission. Call (727) 896-2667.
Haiti photo exhibit opening: A glimpse into the culture of Haiti by seven St. Petersburg Times photojournalists opens with two special events, each featuring Haitian food, music and history discussion. Music by the Sun Drummers all evening, with a discussion by Haiti historian Yves George at 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 895-6620.
St. Pete Shuffle: Think shuffleboard is just for the retirement complex down the street? Think again. This family-friendly event also attracts the young date-night crowd with its mix of leisurely shuffle, cool music (usually from someone's iPod mix) and a discreet BYOB policy. Just be sure to hit up one of the regulars for some tips on keeping score, because that will make play more interesting. And bring along a few extra $1 bills in your wallet; you'll want to help keep the cool vibe going when they pass the donation box. 7 p.m. Mirror Lake Shuffleboard Club, 559 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 822-2083.
Downtown Artwalk: St. Petersburg Downtown Arts Association gallery tour. Enjoy a festive evening of art, guest artists and art-related events. Participating galleries from 30th Street to the downtown waterfront offer extended hours. Check stpetearts.org for a locator map. 5:30 p.m. Downtown St. Petersburg, various locations from 30th Street to the Pier. Free. Call (727) 323-2787.
Environmental film festival: Wild & Scenic Film Festival includes Division Street, Big River and other environmental films presented by the Suncoast Sierra Club and the Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. 7 p.m. St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. $10 per day, $8 per day for students with ID. Call (727) 738-6438.
'Threading the Needle': Opening reception for an exhibit of contemporary fiber works, with quilts from recycled materials using traditional quilting techniques by Amy Vigilante; The Sound Organ, an interactive sound machine by Duane Brant; and domestic materials and images and woven and embroidered art by Pip Brant. Show continues through Aug. 20. 5:30 p.m. Florida Craftsmen Galleries, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. Call (727) 821-7391.