It's wonderful how plants can hold a special meaning for gardeners. Photo by Doug Oster
This rose of Sharon tree came with me when I moved to Pittsburgh in 1998. The tiny sapling was one of the last things I dug up and threw in the back of my truck while making the move. Even though the entire truck bed was filled with plants, this is the only one I can really remember as coming from my old garden.
I was leaving my first garden, for 15 years that landscape taught me many lessons and it was heartbreaking to let it go.
As I drove out, I took one last look at the garden where my kids grew up.
The rose of Sharon tree was the biggest I had ever seen and it was right behind the basketball hoop. I took one of its babies to remind me of all the good times we had there.
That tree shook off the countless years of abuse. Errant basketballs, climbing pre-teens and a brand new gardener who enjoyed the carefree plant but didn't have a clue.
16 years later it looks out into the garden and over an above ground pool.
Yesterday's humidity drove me into the water after working in the garden. When I looked up I saw my faithful friend covered in white blooms, I was overjoyed.
It flooded me with memories of what seems like a lifetime ago. My youngest is 25, oldest will be 30 this year. When they see the tree bloom, it's just another flower in dad's garden, but for me, it's so much more.
I understand why people hate rose of Sharon trees. They spread relentlessly from runners and seed and are a mess as they throw spent blooms to the ground.
A friend once told me he hated the tree because it bloomed in the middle of the summer instead of spring. But for me, that's just another bonus to this indestructible beauty.
I can still picture my two boys battling each other for supremacy on the gravel basketball court, and that's just one reason rose of Sharon has a special place in my garden.