At this time of year I have a new favourite flower everyday. Right now it’s this hollyhock, which is blooming beautifully, despite being seriously bashed in the past.
These plants made it through a tough winter, and they’re either self seeded from last year, or somehow survived under the snow. I certainly didn’t plant any hollyhocks here this year. So these gorgeous deep purple blooms are a bonus.
The hollyhocks are planted in an area that was once the previous owners vegetable patch, and was for a while called ‘the fairy garden’ by our niece, and has since become the ‘galaxy’ garden, where we’re making a little orrery of spheres and spirals of roses and thyme, enclosed in the woven curved arch, which probably represents spacetime. The woven willow arch certainly fills the space, and it took us some time to make it.
Sat at the table, admiring the blooms, I noticed that the flower stem of the hollyhock had been seriously bashed at some point – probably a cat related incident.
This hadn’t caused this plucky plant too much trouble, it just twirled around and sprouted anyway, and produced these lovely flowers.
I’m not the most interventionist of gardeners, and I’m sure a neat-freak gardener would have spotted the damage, clipped the plant, admonished the cat, and got a new bloom a few weeks later. But I kind of like how the hollyhock found its own way around the problem. I’m lazy, and I still get some flowers. This is why the cottage garden favourites, like hollyhock, appeal to me a great deal.
Hollyhock is a tough plant and it self-seeds readily in the right conditions. It’s weed like in it’s ability to survive and take root in any suitable space.
Many years ago I lived on an estate in London. Not a posh country estate, a 1970s council estate just behind Stoke Newington police station. There were some very nice gardens, often in the homes of tenants who used their ‘right to buy’ the property.
This estate was a bit rough in parts but had a lovely sense of community, lots of green space, and there were a few keen gardeners (including me) in the area. And hollyhocks was blooming everywhere. It had self-seeded all around, growing happily in the cracked edges of the pavement and under the street lamps.
I suppose it denotes under investment in pavement repair on the estate, but it was really beautiful and I I’ve had a fondness for hollyhocks ever since. One of my favourite flowers, and a wonderful weed like indestructibility.
I’ll close with this lovely song which springs to mind. Its by Jarvis Cocker, and it’s about weeds. Enjoy!