Has anyone else noticed how well the hardy Hibiscus (H.syriacus) are doing this year?
They are usually a bit of an under-used shrub, mostly because they are what you might call a one-trick pony: they flower just the once, in late July/August, and that's it. They are not evergreen, so you don't get winter interest: they are late to come into leaf, so you don't get spring interest, and they don't do anything interesting in autumn, either.
But for those few weeks in summer when they are in full bloom, they are quite delicious: the petals - in shades of blue, lilac and white - are like crumpled silk, and they have a cheeky clump of stamens in the centre, which seem to be sticking their tongues out at us.
And this year, they are flowering exceptionally well.
It's easy to see why: they are a Mediterranean plant, and they need at least six hours of sunshine a day to bring them into full bloom. And of course this year they have had nothing but sun for the past two months, so who can blame them for showing us what they can really do.
The best place for a Hibiscus is either towards the back of a border, so that their early-season bareness doesn't send the garden owner into a decline (“It's dead! It's dead!”) or standing in splendid isolation, where their stiff upright form can be admired from all angles, and where they get plenty of that sunlight which they crave.
They are extremely easy to care for: they grow fairly slowly, so you don't need to do any complicated pruning, but they can also be cut back in late winter if they are getting in the way, without causing them any harm. They don't need watering, or special feeding, just a bit of patience in spring (“It's dead! It's dead!”).
In fact, the only thing I don't like about the many Hibiscus (Hibiscusses? Hibiscusi?) in my care is that I have several lilac/blue ones, which send up seedlings all over the place, but the only beautiful white one (which I covet on a weekly basis) has never yet produced any seed!