This one’s not in Plant Finder

Most of my plants come from Garden Centres or nurseries but there are one or two exceptions. Several years ago, I decided to buy a couple of hibiscus shrubs from my local Woolworth’s store – they had a special offer at the time. The two I chose were ‘Red Heart’ and ‘Bluebird’.

‘Red Heart’ duly flowered as per the picture on the label

Hibiscus syriacus 'Red Heart' (close-up) - 2014

But ‘Bluebird’ was definitely not right

Hibiscus syriacus (unknown variety)  - close-up - 2015

After failing to find my plant in my reference books, I took a sample to the RHS Wisley for identification. After a few weeks I received their report; they were unable to name it and suggested I contact the firm of Notcutt’s as they were breeders of hibiscus. Another letter and another baffled reply – would I send some cutting material in January and they would graft and grow my plant to assess it? I duly followed their instructions and sent off six pieces.

Summer came and went and my mystery hibiscus flowered again. In November, Notcutt’s wrote to me. “We are unable to identify your plant”, they said. “However, it is too similar to an existing variety to be worthwhile our selling it.” So I had a new, unnamed, and unsellable, variety of hibiscus. I asked for the young plants to be returned (which they did) and distributed them to some keen fellow gardeners in Bracknell so now there are several of this shrub around the town. Here is the original plant, thriving beside my front door.

Hibiscus syriacus (unknown variety) - 2015

I thought it ought to have a proper name (instead of ‘Not Bluebird!’) so unofficially, it is:


(named after a character in ‘The Importance Of Being Ernest’ by Oscar Wilde)


3 thoughts on “This one’s not in Plant Finder

  1. What a wonderful story and what an inspired name for your Hibiscus! ‘Lady Bracknell’ looks marvellous outside your front door. If you could see my ‘Oiseau Blue’ you would weep (or maybe laugh). It definitely needs releasing from its pot, now I know how huge they can grow!


  2. Alison,
    Thanks for your comment. I think my hibiscus has put on extra growth as it is facing due south with a brick wall behind it, acting like a storage heater. But you can still expect a mature specimen to reach ten feet.


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