I spent way too many hours trying to figure out what this flower is. It is a relic of Nellie's Garden, a late self-seeder that pops out of the soil when it's good and ready, 'round about July.
I have only ever seen it in my garden, so I thought it was Rare and Wonderful. Then I saw it in seedling form in one of those dirty sidewalk-tree-holes in Wilkes-Barre, where it had somehow persevered past dog crap and cigarette ash. It was alive, which is more than I can say for the tree that had once been there.
This city street sighting deflated my hopes of Rare, but confirmed Wonderful.
Anything that is fertilized, instead of fried, by the
fluid that was once malt liquor and is now pee, is Wonderful.
What I like about this flower is a lot of things: It has pyramidal lanterns. It is a really dark, shiny, healthy green with unusual long, lobed leaves and sharp, angular stems. You can scamper out first thing in the morning to see it, and the bud is a tight, white scroll. You can fix your coffee and sit on the bottom step and watch it, and hang out the laundry and load up the truck and walk the dog, and there it sits. You can sigh and flick it, to inspire activity, but... nothing. You can think it is a little bit more unfurled, which it isn't, and go inside to get your this-and-that so you can leave for the day, and then when you come back out, you see: you missed it.
Which is why it is called flower-of-an-hour. Like I said, I spent forever trying to figure out what it is, and finally in exasperation posted a question at the Dave's Garden ID forum, and someone replied with the correct answer in, like, 7.5 seconds.
On further reading, the following words and phrases have been used to describe Hibiscus trionum in the Dave's Garden PlantFiles: terrible, evil, noxious, bugger, scraggly, Attila the Hun, invasive, kill them early and kill them often. If that isn't enough to knot the little bastards onto my heartstrings forever, I don't know what is.