Late flowering | The JOLT News Organization, a Washington-based nonprofit


In today’s context, “late bloomers” is not a reference to 40-year-old virgins, or writers who publish their first novel at the age of 75.

Gardeners are more literal. When the spring blooms are a distant memory and the summer blooms quickly fade, we think of what comes next: the plants that start blooming in late August and usher us into fall.


Many believe that the hibiscus is a flower behind the ear of a Hawaiian hula dancer, an exotic tropical flower associated with a Hindu goddess, or the national flower of Haiti, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands.

But many hardy species of hibiscus shrubs and small trees thrive here. The oldest and best known are often called the Rose of Sharon. This name applies to several varieties of tall flowering shrubs that can be pruned to control their size.

Many are white or pink. The Spruce website lists another as “an example of a flower that pushes the purple hue toward blue.” That describes the one in my garden, now almost old enough to drink and about 12 feet tall and almost as wide. It is newly covered in flowers and will be for another month.

I love it so much that I bought another hibiscus – a double-flowered pink – four years ago. It was slow to start; he followed the garden adage that “first year he sleeps, second year he crawls, third year he leaps”. This year, it is blooming, to the delight of the bees who burrow deep into its double flowers.

A neighbor has the most common: a zillion spectacular pale pink flowers with magenta centers and large, sexy reproductive parts.

Hibiscus is easy to grow and undemanding to soil and sun. Although they require water to establish themselves, they are moderately drought tolerant once established.

Japanese anemones

Delicate pink or white flowers appear on tall stems, now so tall they seem to be peering into my dining room window. These flowers grow best in soil that is not too rich, and they will even thrive in soil they share with a cedar tree, or on the north side of a building where they are in the shade most of the time. . If you make them too happy, they may spread widely.

They have just started to flower, and their many tight, almost round buds will continue to open for the next six weeks. They last a long time like cut flowers, but shake them vigorously before putting them in; flowers are the favorite haunt of earwigs.

I was about to write that they were free from pests other than earwigs, but then I looked out the window and saw a squirrel sitting on the fence eating their flower buds . Well, there’s enough to share.

Another reason to grow them: it’s fun to say “Japanese anemone”. He has rhythm! Someone should write a song about them, with their name in the chorus.

Flower of the Seven Sons

Here’s another fun name to say: Heptacodium miconioidesthe Latin name for this small tree or large shrub native to China.

A very persuasive nursery worker sold me this little tree when I asked about Japanese maples. She was probably worried that he had been in his jar too long and was in dire need of a forever home. And she made a great sales pitch: fragrant flowers, blooming in August and September, blooms followed by dark pink, berry-like calyxes.

My little tree struggled for the first two years. He wanted a lot of water and was leaning dangerously. He had to be staked to improve his posture. But don’t all gardeners love a little life-and-death plant drama, especially if it ends well?

This year, the not so small tree is doing well and has just bloomed. The flowers smell a bit like jasmine, although the fragrance is not very strong. I was hoping passers-by would like it, but it turns out bees and butterflies love this tree even more, and the current issue of Fine Gardening hails it as a pollinator favourite.

A tree that blooms in August and September is a welcome sight, as are all those happy bees.

PS Blackberries!

It’s Peak Blackberry Week, and it’s a peak year for blackberries. A long rainy spring and a hot, sunny summer produced even more berries than usual, which is already a lot.

We tend to underestimate the common and the abundant, but we shouldn’t. Blackberries are so good for snacks, pies, cobblers, pies, jam, jelly, ice cream. . . and here is my current favourite: homemade blackberry jelly, made with blackberry juice, flavorless gelatin and a little sugar. A summer treat that jiggles.

Jill Severn writes from her home in Olympia, where she grows vegetables, flowers and a small flock of chickens. She loves conversations between gardeners. Start one by emailing her at [email protected]


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