Hibiscus Summer


Hibiscus of many sizes, shapes and colors fill our garden this week to the delight of butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators.  Actually, to our delight, as well, as we enjoy their bold colors and beautiful forms.



Hibiscus flowers call across the garden, inviting closer inspection of their sculptural beauty.



Our herbaceous Hibiscus are natives or native cultivars.  Native Hibiscus delighted us during our first summer in this garden, and they still thrill as they bloom each year.


Hibiscus moscheutos


As natives, they ask little beyond sunlight, moisture and a place to grow.  Long after their flowers fade, they continue giving sustenance to birds and structure to the garden as their woody stems and seed pods ripen and split.  Cut them in early December, sow the seeds and spray them gold for a bit of glitter in holiday decorations.  Or leave them to catch winter’s ice and snow, feeding those birds who remain in the garden into the new year.


Hibiscus coccineus


I wrote about our native red Hibiscus coccineus last August, when it normally blooms.  It has already been blooming this year for almost a week; yet another indication of phenological shifts in response to our warming climate.

We love seeing these scarlet flowers nodding above the garden, perched atop their distinctive and beautiful foliage.  I try to collect and spread their seeds as the season wanes, to encourage more plants to emerge each year.



The tree Hibiscus, Hybiscus syriaca, are widely naturalized, though they originally came from Asia.  Drought and pollution tolerant, they are easy to grow and easily hybridize in an ever expanding selection of cultivars.  Beloved by bees and butterflies, they bloom over many weeks from early summer until autumn.  These fast growing trees reseed themselves in our garden and I often have seedlings to share.


Hibsicus syriaca


Hibiscus mark the height of summer in our garden.  They bloom over a long period, and we feel a subtle shift into another, late-summer season when they finally begin to fade.


Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’


Woodland Gnome 2019


Fabulous Friday: Hibiscus in Bloom

Hibiscus moscheutos opens its first blooms of the season today.


We always celebrate when the Hibiscus moscheutos bloom.  These easy native perennials largely care for themselves.  Although they die back to the ground each autumn, they grow quickly once their stems finally appear again in late spring.



Native Hibiscus prove very accommodating and will grow in a variety of conditions.   Seen most commonly in the wild near water, they appreciate a little irrigation when the weather turns hot and dry.  They grow in a variety of soils from partial shade to full sun.  Happy, well irrigated plants grow to between four and five feet tall.

We let them seed themselves around and grow where they will, always delighted when their colorful blooms quite suddenly appear in mid-summer.  Each stem may produce a half dozen or more buds.  Once the flowers fade, interesting seed capsules ripen and persist into winter.  Many of our songbirds enjoy pecking ripe seeds from the open capsules until we finally cut their dried stems down.


Hybrid Hibiscus ‘Kopper King’ is much showier than our native Hibiscus with somewhat larger flowers. Its foliage is also more attractive… until the Japanese beetles have their way with the leaves.  This cultivar was introduced by the Fleming Brothers of Lincoln, Nebraska, who have produced several Hibiscus hybrids based on crosses of H. moscheutos and H. coccineus.


While many cultivars of H. moscheutos are available on the market, I believe that most of ours are the species.  We planted H. ‘Kopper King’ about four years ago and it has grown into a large and vigorous plant. Various Hibiscus volunteers in our garden bloom deep pink, light pink or white.  We see them, too, in the marshes along the James River and creeks that feed it.


Hardy Hibiscus coccineus will start blooming by early August.


Native Hibiscus prove a reliable, hardy and very beautiful perennial in our garden.  We have more native Hibiscus species yet to bloom; and the Asian Hibiscus syriacus, or woody Rose of Sharon, is in the midst of its much longer season of bloom.


Hibiscus syriacus, Rose of Sharon


The woody shrub form of Asian Hibiscus also seeds itself around the garden, growing quickly from seedling to blooming tree in just a few years.  Although new cultivars are introduced each year, we have four or five different flower colors and forms which keep us quite happy.  A non-native, it also feeds many creatures with its nectar, pollen, leaves and seeds.


Rose of Sharon, or tree Hibiscus


It is fabulous to enjoy a plethora of gorgeous showy flowers with very little effort on our part during this muggiest part of summer.  It is also fabulous to watch the beautiful and varied bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that visit to enjoy their abundant pollen and sweet nectar each day.


Rose of Sharon in our shrub border bloom prolifically from mid-June until early September.


Woodland Gnome 2018

Fabulous Friday:  Happiness is contagious;

let’s infect one another!



“Seize the moments of happiness,

love and be loved!

That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly.

It is the one thing we are interested in here.”


Leo Tolstoy


One Word Photo Challenge: Maroon

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Maroon:  Somewhere between brown and red, or perhaps chocolate and rose; with a little purple hue thrown in for good measure.

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When I think of “maroon,” I think of team colors, 1950’s cars, and lipstick.

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From the French and Italian words for  “chestnut,”  maroon reminds me of cinnamon and dried chilies; good red wine and mole’ sauce.

It looks delicious, smells of old roses, and feels like satin.

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But here it is in the garden! 

Have you ever seen a flower advertised as “maroon” in a nursery catalog?  Who would order a “maroon” plant or  flower?


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But un-named, it is a deep and intriguing color, a good foil for cream and pink. 

It plays well against all shades of green, and gives an illusion of coolness and shadow.

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And now I’m seeing it everywhere…


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Words and Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

With appreciation  to Jennifer Nichole Wells for her One Word Photo Challenge:  Maroon

One World Photo Challenge: Gold

One World Photo Challenge: Gold   Golden Turtle

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WPC: Split Second Story

The, crouching into my photo of lovely Hibiscus, "Kopper King."

Theo, crouching into my photo of lovely Hibiscus, “Kopper King.”

This is Theo.

Theo spotted me photographing his plants at the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market this morning.

Knotts Creek Nursery's display is acroos the street.  They area the ones flocked with customers....

Knotts Creek Nursery’s display is across DoG street at the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market this morning.  They are the ones flocked with customers….

He ended up selling me the plant I wanted to photograph, and a lot more!

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Knotts Creek Nursery, in Suffolk, normally a wholesaler; brought a selection of their beautifully grown perennials, herbs, and shrubs to temp the citizenry of Williamsburg this morning.

And the plants were just flying out of  the display so fast that you couldn’t hesitate.

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A beautiful Euphorbia was there and gone in an instant.  Other customers were browsing “my pile,” already paid for, before my partner could get round with the car to load up.

So the lovely Hibiscus “Kopper King” came home with us, as did some perennial Salvias, perennial Foxglove, and a Hibiscus Coccineus ‘Texas Star’.

This Foxglove came home to Forest Garden today.

This Foxglove came home to Forest Garden today.

Theo is a great salesman!  I liked him right away, as soon as he crouched into the frame of my first photo.

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We chatted, and I found out why.  It seems Theo is just finishing up his first year of teaching high school science in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  I’m sure his students and colleagues love him.

He is a bright spirit, and knows his plants.

When I asked him for not just “deer resistant” varieties, but poisonous ones;  he sent me to the Foxglove right away.

This lovely Echinacea did not make the cut.... "deer candy."

This lovely Echinacea did not make the cut…. “deer candy.”

Yes, with a raised eyebrow, but give the customer what they want,   Right?

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All Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Split Second Story

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