I've been on the lookout for a while for the right plant to anchor the back corner of the little bed that sits right outside my back steps. I had planted Bleeding Hearts here before, but I think it was too sunny, because they bloomed and grew one season and then never came back.
What I was looking for was something substantial but not overwhelming. Something that would grow to no more than 3 feet high, and not so wide that it would squeeze out the other plants already there. (Right now, that's just catmint and a few Stargazer lillies, but earlier in the season there were iris, freesias, and snapdragons.) Because this spot is the site of a little memorial garden, I wanted a plant that would also have some meaning, either through the language of flowers, the name of the plant, or the color.
I think I may have found what I was looking for: Hibiscus acetosella 'Haight Ashbury.' This plant has amazing foliage--maple-like leaves splotched with dark green, bright red, and deep burgundy. And then there are the flowers--single-petal blooms of deep, I mean really deep, burgundy that darkens to very nearly black in the throat. Ever since reading Blackswamp Girl's post at A Study in Contrasts about her black Watchman hollyhock, I've been thinking that a black flower would make a nice addition to this part of the garden. I'm doubly pleased with the hibiscus because it also has such striking foliage. I think it looks great between the peachy-beige stucco on my house and the lighter green foliage of the plants surrounding it.
If it does as well as I'm hoping it will, I think I'll also take a cutting to root for the front yard as well.