One of the unintended, but very welcome, consequences of my gardening and garden writing is that I am often asked to try out new plant introductions.

Last year one of the Proven Winner introductions for 2014, FULL BLAST Rose of Sharon Hibiscus (here) was, and, in some cases still is...

available in nurseries and garden centers; if not, buy it online at Garden Crossings, here.  I'm always happy to get free plants of course, but particularly so...

when they harmonize and echo (see the phlox peeking from behind the leaf)...

with colors and elements already existing in my summer garden tableau.

I have not always been a fan of hibiscus...perhaps because they thrive in my least favorite weather/season....aka hot as blue blazes...and are often overgrown, bulky and unwieldy in the landscape. And while eminently appropriate for poolside or exposed hot spots in a garden...I find the ubiquitous orange ones (NOT hardy and often trained as standards) overused and a little garish (forgive me if you are lover of them...some of my best friends and relatives are...).  

But this hardy hibiscus (to -20F) is an exception. I planted two quart size specimens last summer, and began training them into single-trunk standards (my preferred method of growing them...)

this summer. I planted the two of them on either end of my east to west flower border that runs north of the potager. 

The one above, on the west side, gets the most sun and is already a respectable 7 feet tall, out of its projected 8-10 foot mature height. It would grow equally as wide if I had allowed it to... 

grow as a shrub. But I will keep its width in check by pruning it in
late winter, early spring so as to increase its fullness and bloom. The
one above is its east twin, growing nicely, but much smaller in stature...

because of the lower light situation. Still, after a recent rain it shot up to five feet, and will soon be turned into small tree/single standard form as well.

FULL BLAST has thick, handsome branches through which the like-colored tall phlox can peek through. A happy thing I think.

Even without color, the buds and foliage are handsome and charmingly titillating.

To get the trunk off on the straight and narrow, I stabilized it with a thick bamboo stake...

which has worked nicely and will be repeated on its east twin.

This lavender lovely has been remarkably undemanding. I just gave it a good dose of compost and gravel at planting to improve drainage, and fertilized
it in early spring.

 The light shade it provides just makes its other pink playmates comfortable and perky. 

I mean really, what more could I ask? 

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