This is the old Beverly Hills Hotel in Ross. The place has been closed for over 20 years after a fire. Not much is left in the landscape except hundreds of Rose of Sharon plants that thrive just as they did decades ago when the nightclub shined. I run by the old place every few days, in the spring a few daffs struggle to bloom, but summer is when the show really starts.
They have cross pollinated over the years producing pink, white and purple flowers with some of the trees reaching 15 feet in height.
At their feet are thousands of babies patiently waiting to take over when the mother plant fails.
Many gardeners hate the Rose of Sharon for various reasons. "It blooms at the wrong time," some say. Maybe it's because it's so common and easy to grow. But I love the plant for the same reason others hate it and actually transplanted three trees from my old garden when I moved 12 years ago.
Sure I could have bought a fancier cultivar for my new garden, but these trees are steeped in memories from my first garden. My kids played basketball under the giant that produced them. The old girl never flinched as the ball crushed its branches or when rambunctious kids scrambled for a rebound in her shadow. The 20 foot tall tree was there when my sons discovered a yellow jacket nest in the wood pile. She watched as I dried their tears all the time adding a few more flowers and growing a couple more inches as the days lengthened.
I keep my trees in check by removing the newly sprouted progeny that emerge each season at the base of each plant. One escaped and bloomed deep purple, it looks wonderful in consort with the pure white blooms of its mother.
There are lots of new cultivars that are cool looking, some with variegated foliage, double blooms and even trees that are sterile.
They might be beautiful, and mannerly, but I'll take my old fashioned varieties brought from my old garden. They remind me of simpler times when bees and basketballs filled long summer days and the garden taught a new lesson at every turn.