Lavatera trimestris 'Mont Blanc' (Malvaceae)
'Nice day for a white wedding'......In flower now and easy to grow from seed sown in autumn or winter, this 'mallow' or annual Hibiscus family member is native to the Mediterranean, Morocco and Syria. It is pink or mauve in its wild form and grows in sandy soil near the coast. In Spain it is known as Malva and in France as 'Mauve royale'. This pure white form 'Mont Blanc' grows to about 100cm tall, likes full sun and a position where the soil is well drained and not too rich. Adapted to a dry and variable climate it does the curious thing of conserving energy before flowering by shedding lower leaves just when the buds start to form. This can be a bit disconcerting as you think the plant is going to die when these leaves turn yellow and drop off. The upper leaves are delightful as they appear neatly folded over the buds like a piece of Japanese Origami.Lavatera is named for the 16th century Swiss Doctor and naturalist J R Lavater.