Flower-of-an-hour

I don’t know if all of our recent focus on potentially devastating weather is the cause of it, but this week I found myself particularly interested in one of the most easy-come/easy-go plants in our gardens. Hibiscus trionum has been sowing itself here for probably ever; I’ve diligently cautioned the volunteers to not weed out the volunteers and I’ve always vaguely appreciated the way it pops up, weaves, and sprawls sort of awkwardly through other plants. But I never really noticed it. I didn’t commit its name to memory until recently and only learned its common names and trademark trait when I googled it just now.

Venice mallow or flower-of-an-hour opens for a short time on sunny days like a fair-weather friend. They’re as ephemeral as it gets but there are plenty of buds for a summer-full of days, which is probably why I never noticed them come and go so quickly. And the seedheads are every bit as pretty – fuzzy, striped bright green puffs that turn nut-brown and open up as the seeds ripen. The plant, with its sprawling 2-3′ weave, generally plays really well with others (though the picture below shows it right smack in the middle of a Helichrysum in the North Garden. Not that I mind.)

My RHS A-Z encyclopedia lists its region of origin as “uncertain” and the internet isn’t any more help: evidently it’s happy to grow all over the world. Although it has a typical hibiscus-y tropical-looking flower, this one doesn’t seem as curiously out of context here as some of the larger flowered species do. Just because it’s happy everywhere (in full sun and whatever kind of soil) doesn’t mean that it’s easy to find to buy. According to my brief search, Annie’s Annuals sells plants and Chiltern sells the seeds. This is more of a passalong plant. Take a close look around friends’ gardens and beg. No doubt they’ll have a few seeds to spare.

Do you have flower-of-an-hour in your garden? Have you noticed and loved it all along?

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