rose sharon:blueOooh, look what showed up this morning in the sunny border — a powder-puff of pale blue. It’s early August and the Rose of Sharon (H. syriancus) is coming into its own. This heavenly example, ‘Blue Chiffon,’ is just one in the Proven Winners line of ColorChoice flowering shrubs. It blooms just in time to fill in the late-summer gaps and contrast with my purple cone flowers and perennial lobelia.

These old-fashioned flowering shrubs have been around forever, but your grandmother’s Rose of Sharon never looked like these new cuties that come in a selection of pastel colors in doubles and big-blooming singles. Rose of Sharon is the epitome of a low-care, hardy flowering shrub that is cold hardy to Zone 5. I like to keep my selections pruned to about four feet tall, but most can grow to eight to 12 feet tall if left to their own devices. And yes indeed, they are productive partners in the perennial beds, adding structure and shiny green foliage even when not in bloom. Moist, well-drained soil and full sun are required for best bloom production. A quick pruning to shape in the spring is basically all they require. And oh, the blooms!

rose sharon II Sugar Tip double rose sharon**One selection, ‘Lil’ Kim,’ (right) grows to a petite three to four feet tall with an explosion of crimson-centered white single blooms. Another favorite of mine is the handsome ‘Sugar Tip,’ (left) with a froth of double pale pink blossoms. But wait! There’s more to ‘Sugar Tip’ than just flowers. This hardy selection contributes even when not in bloom with attractive blue-green and cream variegated foliage. All these stunning varieties are seedless.