Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hollyhock love

They may be a cliché but I love Hollyhocks and Hollyhocks love my garden.

There were no Hollyhocks in our garden when we moved here twelve years ago and for a few years I felt there was something missing – after midsummer the garden lacked the colour of May and June. Then I noticed the Hollyhocks when we went for long walks between the local villages . . . they spring up everywhere in this part of England, loving the low annual rainfall.

So how to get the Hollyhocks to move in? You can forget buying plants in pots or sowing seed carefully in trays or cells in a greenhouse – Hollyhocks like to get on with growing their own way as they need to get that long strong tap root down deep right from the start! There's also no need to buy expensive packets of seed, just take a few seeds when you see some lovely Hollyhocks growing by a footpath ;-) and when you get home scatter them in dry sunny corners of your garden. That's just what I did, sometimes I remembered where a particularly fine coloured Hollyhock grew so I could return to gather a few seeds when they were ripe.

Then, slowly at first, the Hollyhocks grew . . . and the bees pollinated the flowers and more seeds fell and grew, and more and more. Yes, I suppose they could be a bit of a nuisance if you're a tidy sort of gardener – but I'm not a tidy sort of gardener, so I welcomed them in and now and again 'edit' out the ones I don't need!


This year I have the best ever Hollyhock show! None were planted by me, I haven't given them any water (even during the nine week drought from March to May) and they don't need staking (though one or two are leaning over a bit after the heavy rain at the weekend). A few have Hollyhock rust – but not bad enough to spoil the show, I don't fret about little things like that.


Let's take a closer look at those silky satellite-dish flowers . . .


. . . each one is a different shade from deep burgundy, through every shade of pink to the palest yellow (personally I don't encourage white and yellow ones as the flowers get lost against the cream colour of our house walls and I love the richer shades).



This morning I picked one flower from each plant – each one is different in colour, size and shape – the petals smooth or textured, regular or frilled.


I love Hollyhocks!




Celia
x

24 comments:

  1. I love them too but this year I have none, thanks to a new neighbour. I was so angry and upset! He won't do that again so I am looking around for plants that I can get seeds from, especially the pale yellow and cream ones. They absolutely 'make' a garden don't they?

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  2. I love them too, and they self seed throughout my garden too (no I'm not a tidy gardener either!). You have an amazing aray of colours there.

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  3. absolutely stunning! My pa and I are going to embark on a guerilla gardening missing on the weedy verge along our road. We have already collected jars full of poppy seeds and have our eyes on hollyhocks down the road, they are in every colour from black to pink to yellow to almost white. what gorgeous things they are!

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  4. I had hollyhocks, but they decided not to come back. I wish they'd left me a note to tell me why...

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  5. Now suffering from serious hollyhock envy. I've never managed to get them to grow and I love them so much. It's 'my' flower too because as a tall and skinny child my dad used to call me his little 'olly'ock! Will now start seriously looking for seeds to steal!

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  6. Mine have done well this year too. We started out with some scattered seed and they are everywhere now, but I just evict the odd one from the veg plot and leave them to it.

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  7. Your hollyhocks look lovely - I've never had them in my garden. Lucy x

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  8. They're beautiful - and such an array of colours. I was given some hollyhock seeds which I planted up in an old leaky welly - perhaps I should get them in the ground now before they get too big??

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  9. I love hollyhocks too but stillhaven't got around to putting them in my garden. Love the colours you've got.

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  10. Just a thimbleful...

    We love hollyhocks too and have lots of them - but they do have a tendency to grow in the FRONT of the border and in the cracks in the paving stones ! Sadly just come back from France to find many of them beaten down by te rain and wind.

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  11. I love hollyhocks too and had planned to do just that- collect some seeds and see if they would grow. Thanks for the couragement!
    Yours look lovely.

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  12. They look lovely Celia - such lovely rich colours. I also enjoyed the tour around your garden in your last post.

    I agree with your comment at mine. I don't mind the rain at all although the torrential sort can put a dampener on outdoor summer pursuits. My ideal day is one of warm sunshine and showers - wishful thinking!

    Jeanne
    x

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  13. Crazy about Hollyhocks but now know to just scatter rather than sow. The collection of different hues is so pretty

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  14. Ah, bliss! Thankyou, Celia.(They would hate it here!)

    And yes, that was a Little Kingfisher in my photo.

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  15. They don't seem to do well round here - I don't recall seeing them in any local gardens. Sad, as they are such an eye-full of stateliness.

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  16. Good to hear from lots of Hollyhock fans!

    Toffeeapple - I'll have to save some seed from my white and yellow ones ;-)

    Su - they seem brighter and bigger this year!

    Holly - go for it!

    Anon - how did you manage that! I think you must be a very tidy gardener!

    Penny - hope you manage to get some to grow - try putting some broken bricks in a pile in a sunny corner and sowing around them.

    serendipity - that's the best way with Hollyhocks :-)

    Lucy - they do seem to have favourite areas of the country. Look around to see if the neighbours have them.

    svg - get them in the ground, they'll thank you for it!

    Gina - I'm thinking of carrying Hollyhock seeds in my pockets so they spring up in my wake!

    Mavis - oh yes, they do that here!

    Lynne - hope you manage to grow some.

    Cottage Garden - the English Weather keep us on our toes doesn't it!

    Patio Patch - yes, just scatter. They like crevices by paths, so you can create a mini pavement by pushing some broken bricks into the soil in a sunny corner, then scatter on the seeds and wait.

    moreidlethoughts - far too English to thrive in Queensland! Sorry I cheated, but I haven't cheated for part 2 of the quiz.

    Vegetable Heaven - must be the soil, or low annual rainfall, or both. It's best to grow plants that like your garden.


    Celia
    x

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  17. my late paternal grandmother grew about a 10 foot swath of hollyhocks at the top edge of the driveway to the second floor of her barn. she said it was to let drivers backing up a load of hay know where the dropoff was so the trucks wouldn't tumble down & mess up her grass.

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  18. A brilliant idea! And bet it looked stunning too.

    C x

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  19. Oh! how lovely your holyhocks are, I have tried them in my garden, but they never keep, obviously too much rain in these parts.

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  20. So pretty,I love them too. Have some here but not as many as I'd like. I'll have to get seed scattering. :)

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  21. Thank you Celia, I'd be so grateful.

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  22. Oh that hollyhock heart is wonderful, you must make a valentines card!

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  23. I was given two hollyhock plants a few years ago and, with no space in the garden, I found them a temporary home in a large pot at the front door - where they still flower beautifully every year!

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