Wow, ten days since my last post? Time flies when my attention drifts and life runs quickly. My wandering affections for the garden were jerked back in line yesterday as I was mowing, however, by a glimpse of this little bush, a beauty shyly screaming for attention against the prairie backdrop. Stopped the mower short, I did, and jumped off just as quickly to snap an iPhone picture or three.
This is Rose of Sharon 'America Irene Scott', otherwise known in the nursery trade as Sugar Tip®. I bought her at a big box store this spring as a filler for the center of a new bed. I was actually a little reluctant to purchase her, not because of cost or condition, but because I rarely like the flower colors that are commercially available with variegated foliage in many species. One of my many pet peeves (which should be distinguished from the peeved pets that are my patients) is that breeders so often ruin a great flower trying to "improve" it by adding variegated foliage. I was also afraid that the pink tones of Sugar Tip® would be a bit pale and uninspiring. I brought her home, nonetheless, hoping that the deer would leave her alone despite her appetizing appearance.
I was, I now think, flat wrong this time to cynically doubt the marketing savvy of the horticultural world. She's a small bush at the end of her first summer, only 2.5 feet tall and a little more slender, but Hibiscus syriacus Sugar Tip® is blooming her young limbs off, and the double blooms are sufficiently pink to perfectly complement the green and cream foliage. I can't wait to see her in full bloom at her mature stature of 8 feet X 6 feet. The petal color is of that demure, embarrassed pink tone best seen in the early spring in roses such as 'Maiden's Blush', otherwise known as 'Cuisse de Nymphe'. The French should market this variegated Althea as 'Cuisse de Nymphe Dans la Dentelle'; "Thigh of a Nymph in Lace". Qui, Mon Ami?
'America Irene Scott' was patented (US PP20579 P2) in 2009 by Spring Meadow Nursery Inc. Hardy to -20F, 'America Irene Scott' was discovered, according to the patent, in a controlled outdoors nursery by Sharon Gerlt of Independence Missouri in 2001 as a natural branch mutation of 'Lady Stanley'. I was, unfortunately, unable to learn more about Ms. Gerlt or why she named the plant 'America Irene Scott', but The Plant Hunter, a blog by Tim Wood of Spring Meadow Nursery, indicates that Ms. Gerlt may be an "amateur plants-person." If she is indeed an amateur, she has a great eye for plants.
Please, Lord, make me as lucky in my own garden.