Monday, July 2, 2012


Day 158
The Daily DuBrule

I am slipping in my plan to post daily on my blog. I have been out of town, and now I am taking a brief vacation. I expect my posts will be a bit more thoughtful, but probably less frequent as I will do a bit more traveling later this week to Boston.

I looked out my study window Saturday morning, the last day of June, to see my rose of Sharon in bloom. This is not an ordinary rose of Sharon. This is Hibiscus x 'Tosca', a hybrid and much larger growing variety that originated at Winterthur in Delaware. I was taken by this plant years ago because the flowers are huge compared to regular rose of Sharon trees. They measure 5-6" across! The leaves are also quite large, giving the entire plant a tropical appearance. I do not yet know the parentage of this plant, but I will say that it is much earlier to flower than any other rose of Sharon trees I have ever grown. It blooms on current year's wood and I neglected to give it the hard pruning in the spring that I usually do, so it fills up an enormous space in the border opposite my study window. Just last night I did a bit of "cutting windows", pruning some overhanging branches on this tree and a neighboring Baptisia to liberate a gorgeous 'Fireball' bee balm growing below. 

I have grown this plant, and it's cousin 'Lohengrin' which is white with a ruby center, in many of my client's gardens. It is a vigorous and carefree summer bloomer. I have seen people cut this to the ground each spring and grow it as a 4-5' shrub. I have seen people pinch it hard a month after it leafs out to cause it to branch and bloom later. I love to see it get big and offer a very dramatic presence in my yard. The hummingbirds love it and the butterflies do too. References to this plant say that is is sterile but I have to disagree. I have baby seedlings appearing nearby. I pull them out as one plant is all I have room for. Perhaps I should pot them up and grow them on. Maybe I would end up with a new color of this oversized hibiscus.

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