Saturday, June 23, 2012

Those Sneaky Hollyhocks

Day 153
The Daily DuBrule

Many years ago I banished hollyhocks from my garden. It was a heartbreaking decision because I adore these old fashioned flowers. They are dramatic AND they attract hummingbirds.

I remember the exact moment when I decided that enough was enough. It was an extremely mild winter, 70 degrees in January. I was out poking around in the yard and I found hollyhock leaves unfolding up against the south side of my house. They had rust on them! Are you kidding me? Rust in January? I grabbed a garbage bag, dug out the plant, threw it away, and washed my tools off with rubbing alcohol. After that, any babies that appeared were ripped out.

That plan worked well for the past few years. This year, however, a couple of seedlings appeared and, for some reason, I left them. One was in the original spot on the south side of the house. The other was in a raised bed in my vegetable garden. They are both now in bloom and remarkably rust free. Well, I see a tiny bit starting on the lower leaves, but they are nothing like the fungus covered plants of the past. I owe it to my extremely rich soil. This is an unscientific theory, but when you think that holllyhocks used to be a staple next to outhouses and barns where the soil is very rich... well, I just might be onto something. 

The red one is right by my back deck and my resident hummingbird is really happy with it. I can see it out the window as I type this. The pink one is over four feet across and takes up 1/3 of one entire raised bed. The peas are squeezed in next to it. It is the biggest, healthiest hollyhock I have ever seen. I will probably remove the lower leaves and discard them and when the flowers finish, I will cut all the stalks down except one and let it go to seed. Then I will take the ripe seed and move it somewhere else in the yard. I guess the hollyhocks have snuck back in and won a new place in my garden, and in my heart. I am just a sucker for these classic cottage garden flowers.

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