Hibiscus syriacus (or, When a Rose Is Not a Rose)

From Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“Since the 7th century at least, Hibiscus syriacus has been grown in Korea, where (in the South) it is the national flower, seen as embodying the tenacity and survival instincts of the Korean people and their national culture…. A stylised version of the flower’s five petals is a common part of Korean national iconography. The flowers are eaten in China and Korea, and tea can be made from the leaves….

Hibiscus syriacus was introduced to Germany from present-day Lebanon in the 16th century, although there had been a considerably longer history of cultivation in the Middle East, and longer still in eastern Asia. Colour variants were often mentioned by early European garden writers, who knew it only as an orangery or greenhouse plant. Doubles were known by the early 19th century. It has been very successful over much of the United States, where it is known as rose of Sharon….”


So I’ve been perched on my back steps frequently over the past few days, waiting patiently for a couple of Lantana plants in my garden to push out sufficiently effluvient (!!) blooms for a small photo-shoot — but so far I’m not satisfied with my test shots and will just keep waiting for them to make better flowers. They seem to be running late this year; though their tardiness is probably because one plant is a transplant, and the other I cut almost to the ground last winter since The Dog seemed to think it was his job to try and pull the leafless plant out of the ground. Once I cut it back, he lost interest… must only be dog-fun if you’re tugging on something ten times your length….

In the meantime, here are a few shots from my Hibiscus syriacus — aka, Rose of Sharon — whose flowers have been blooming daily in the hot July sun.

Roses of Sharon (or is it “Rose of Sharons” or maybe “Roses of Sharons” (not really)) are pretty common here in the southeast; you see them in yards and gardens in all sorts of shapes and sizes — owing, I think, to their ability to tolerate a wide range of conditions as long as they get enough sun to keep happy. They’re technically a shrub — but they don’t seem to know they’re supposed to be shrubby, so you can find them bushing out widely, filling out as much space as you give them and sometimes achieving the heights of two-story houses while producing an enormous number of flowers from mid- to late-summer. My neighbors have one that’s easily thirty feet tall, located between my house and theirs; mine is in a large pot in the sun-section of my back yard and stands about five feet high. I cut it back to a foot or so every fall to keep it pot-sized and it returns with new shoots and leaves every spring.

The bits of what looks like glitter on some of the blooms is just pollen; I normally zap it away using spot-removal in Lightroom, but kept it this time since the light struck it just right and the little dots looked adorably shiny.

Thanks for taking a look!






Rose of Sharon: Three Views

Below are three views of a Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) growing in a large pot in my garden, that just produced a cluster of flower buds at the end of July. I took the first image last night, as the sun was setting; the other two are from this morning, when clouds from an incoming storm produced some soft shadows and a bit of luminous backlighting. If the remaining buds withstand August heat for a few days, I’ll post a few more shots after the rest of the flowers emerge.

Click the first image to see larger versions; thanks for taking a look!