Bougainvillea is the beloved nickname Gilding gave to one of her nieces. A longtime admirer of this hardy plant so eager to grow for anyone, including brown thumbs like Gilding herself, the nickname fit for this darling neice like bracts to the petals for numerous symbolic reasons. Now it appears the name fits even more closely to the child than even Gilding herself knew as it seems the two share common personalities.
Bougainvillea is native to South America from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina. The name comes from Louis Antoine de Bougainville, an admiral in the French Navy who discovered the plant in Brazil in 1768.
They are thorny, woody, vines scrambling over other plants with their hooked thorns. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colors associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. Bougainvillea is sometimes referred to as “paper flower” because the bracts are thin and papery.