When I win the lottery and buy my second home somewhere in the Caribbean I will plant the garden with lots of hibiscus. There are lots of hibiscus species – as many as 250 – and I know that there are annuals I can grow outside, and (just about) hardy perennials with big flowers (though they never really like it here) and there are the hardy and totally satisfactory hybrids of H. syriacus. But none have the diversity of colour or incredible beauty of the best of H. rosa-sinensis.
I wouldn’t want to swap all the beauties of a temperate garden for these sub-tropical beauties but boy – its a close thing. I love the way the flowers unfurl, the size of the blooms, the bright – or subtle – colours, the glossy, evergreen leaves and the long flowering season. But most of all I like those five little velvety stigmas that spread out beyond that fluffy tube of yellow stamens. Like most of the Malvaceae (malva family) the flowers have a singular structure with the filaments of the stamens fused to form a tube around the length of the style.
I could not resist treating myself to one last week at IKEA and although it was not in bloom there were some in yellow pots with yellow flowers and some in red pots with red flowers so I hoped this plant in an orange pot would have orange flowers. It did, and opened three buds at once. I am very happy.