Hibiscus syriacus, or Rose of Sharon, is the national flower for South Korea and is first mentioned some 1400 years ago, although it seems likely that the Biblical reference is not to this plant. That Greek word translates more directly as a bulb, and may actually refer to a crocus or a type of tulip. It is unlikely that the reference could ever be to hibiscus syriacus, but well, whatever. This is another proof that botanical names still have merit. A shrub or small tree, it is covered with bloom this time of year, a bright pink beacon at the far side of the yard. I’m trying to think where I first of heard it – it may have been in Bob Dylan’s “Caribbean Wind”, although it is as likely that I heard it in something by Joan Baez or Leonard Cohen. It just isn’t something I was used to seeing around Seattle, so for the longest time I had no clue what they were talking about. Here in Maryland it is everywhere, blooming alongside the crepe myrtles. Right now the countryside is filled with hot colors – pinks and reds and yellows that do not give you much of a visual break from the heat, but are nevertheless cheering for their strength in the sunlight that seems to wash everything else away. In the glare of the day, that is a really nice feature.