There are several Hibiscus species that are hardy enough to thrive here in the eastern part of Canada. One is Hibiscus moscheutos, which has a pink flower and is native to Ontario. It’s been hybridized a lot to produce varieties that have different coloured flowers, like the deep red one I have in my garden. Although the flowers resemble ‘Lord Baltimore,’ I’m not sure. The leaves on ‘Lord Baltimore’ are described as being deeply lobed (like a typical Japanese Maple leaf) , whereas the leaves on my specimen are definitely oval shape, with some serrated edging. Whatever variety, it has just started to bloom this week, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
Although the stems get quite woody and this looks like a shrub, it is in fact a perennial, dying back to the ground every fall. Come spring it’s very late to get going – new shoots usually don’t appear until the end of May or even the beginning of June. It’s pretty bug resistant (not even earwigs have been nibbling this year, from what I can see), and the rabbits also leave it alone. It’s growing in what started out as compacted, stony clay soil, but I also use this patch as a cutting garden for annuals and, this year, dahlias, so the soil around both the Hibiscus and the rhubarb growing behind it gets amended each year with compost, manure, leaves and mulch. The flowers are huge (about 20 cm/eight inches across) but unfortunately last only a day – luckily there are loads of buds near the tips of each stem.