ALL HAIL THE HIBISCUS
One of the best summer and autumn flowering shrubs is Hibiscus syriacus. These medium to large deciduous shrubs flower from the end of July through to October, adding colour to the late summer garden when many others have finished flowering.
Although there have been a multitude of new varieties released, many of the older varieties are still very garden worthy. One of my favourites is Hibiscus syriacus ‘Oiseau Bleu (Blue Bird) which has been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit. It has beautiful large single lavender-blue flowers with a maroon red centre and bright white stamens which really stand out in the late summer garden when blue flowered shrubs are uncommon.
Another good traditional variety is H.s. ‘Woodbridge’ which produces a profusion of single deep pink flowers with contrasting crimson centres, which can slowly grow to around 2.5m x 2m but can easily be kept more compact by annual pruning. For single white flowers I like H.s. Diana, its pure white flowers have slightly wavy edges and it rarely produces seed so continues to flower until the first frosts.
For double flowers, the Chiffon series bred by Dr Roderick Woods from Cambridgeshire are a good choice, they make compact plants, and come in a good range of blues, pinks and white. Hibiscus are usually long-living trouble-free plants that enjoy full sun. Any pruning should be done in spring, shortening the previous year’s growth to encourage more flowers.