Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Friday, July 4, 2014
A Rose of Sharon by any other name
Old enough to remember a time in the late 1950's, growing up right here in Austin, when farmers and ranchers and gardeners alike were all talking about the ongoing drought. Since it simply would not rain, they wanted information on what plants people had that could reliably survive the heat of summer, withstand winter's freezes and add either some utility or beauty to their spaces without needing much in the way of watering.
This was long before anybody had snapped to the idea that using native plants was the ideal solution to our recurring problems of too much heat/too little rain. Back in those days, the vast majority of the plants in widespread use for landscapers and gardeners in Central Texas were well adapted imports. If it looked pretty anyplace else and didn't die outright? Texan gardeners would give it a try.
My Dad's garden spaces were no different. A full blooded Italian, he was especially happy gardening around his retirement home near Lake Travis. He felt the hills west of Austin were strikingly similar to the foothills of the Abruzzi Appenines in Italy where his family originally came from. He had a special place in his heart for one particular stalwart of Austin gardens because it was a plant his own mother had grown and loved.
Some refer to it as a Rose of Sharon, my Italian grandmother knew it as St. Joseph's Rod, my father called it Althea, botanists label it Hibiscus syriacus, and I call it....gorgeous.