Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hollyhocks: An Old Fashioned Favourite

Remembering back to when I was a child I would go around to the side of my Grandmother's house in Peterborough, Ontario where she grew hollyhocks. I would make dolls out of the blooms. The bloom itself would be the skirt and the bud of another the head of the doll. I purposefully grow them in our garden as a rememberance to her.

Hollyhocks or Alcea rosea have their origins in Asia and belong to the Malvacea family. They are grown easily from seed. They are a biennial so form a clump the first year and the second set bloom and seed. Plant in the back of the border as they grow to heights of 5 and 6 ft tall (1.5 to 1.8 metres) and have unsightly stems. Bloom time is July through September. Flowers can be single, semi-double and double and in a wide variety of colours. I have one blooming now on the north side of the house that is a beautiful pale yellow. Let some of the blooms go to seed for the next year. Hollyhocks are cross-pollinated by insects so you can never be sure that you will get the same colour in the same area. Save the seeds if you want true colours.

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