Monday, September 1, 2014
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My favorite new plant of 2012

I may have mentioned this a time or two already, but 2012 was not a great season in my garden. Between drought, heat and construction projects, this was a pretty rotten year all 'round. There were a few highlights, of course, including this one: 'Mahogany Splendor,' a new variety of Hibiscus acetosella from Ball Horticulture Co. that, despite the plunging temperature, continues to thrive in my back yard.

My favorite new plant of 2012

I may have mentioned this a time or two already, but 2012 was not a great season in my garden. Between drought, heat and construction projects, this was a pretty rotten year all 'round. There were a few highlights, of course, including this one: 'Mahogany Splendor,' a new variety of Hibiscus acetosella from Ball Horticulture Co. that, despite the plunging temperature, continues to thrive in my back yard.

This is what's known as a tender perennial, gone with the hard frost in our region. But it's definitely worth getting next year. It's billed as a great specimen plant - all by itself in the home landscape - or as part of the back border or, most often, as "the thriller" or tall showcase plant in a large container. And I do mean large.

This guy is 6 feet tall! It can be pruned to be a shrub, but then you'd lose the extreme verticality, which I love. This hibiscus is known more for its foliage than flowers, and to tell the truth, I don't even remember seeing flowers on this one. The serrated leaves resemble a Japanese maple, and though they're routinely described as purple, mine were more reddish brown. Can you see it paired with something with citrus green leaves or other bold features?

'Mahogany Splendor' did great for me in partial shade/sun, and if I didn't tell you it was a hibiscus, you probably wouldn't have guessed. It looks nothing like a tropical. Where's the dinner plate? This one's different. I just might do it again next year.

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog
Ginny Smith, a Philadelphia native, joined the Inquirer at 1985. After stints as both reporter and editor in the city and suburbs, she’s been happily writing – and learning - about gardening full time since 2006. She’s won two silver medals of achievement from the national Garden Writers Association and in 2011, Bartram’s Garden honored her with its Green Exemplar award for her stories about “the region’s deeply rooted horticultural history, cultural attractions and bountiful gardens.” She plays in her own – mostly - bountiful garden in East Falls. Reach Virginia A. at vsmith@phillynews.com .

Virginia A. Smith Inquirer Staff Writer
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