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July 09, 2016

Saturday Gardening Thread: Hollyhock Dolls and Parades [KT}

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Hollyhock Doll with Viola Hat

Good afternoon, Gardeners and Friends of Gardeners. Last Sunday in CBD's famous Food Thread, a discussion of children eating kale, grass, clover and honeysuckle nectar led to the topic of hollyhock fairies, AKA hollyhock dolls. I neglected to mention in the thread that hollyhock dolls are edible. I have eaten hollyhock petals myself. They don't have much flavor, but they are pretty in a salad and probably contain lots of healthy phytonutrients. If you chew them long enough, they can develop some of the slimy sensation that their relative okra can produce. So I usually just look at my hollyhocks.

Flower-eating aside, some gardening questions about hollyhocks came up in the Food Thread. I also saw a Fourth of July reference in the news last week. So I though hollyhocks would be a good lead-off plant today.

Fourth of July on Hollyhock Lane

Hollyhocks have a reputation for rustic, small-town charm in the USA. There are a lot of places called "Hollyhock Lane". They sound like nice places to spend the Fourth of July. Via Y-not, I learned that Justin Amash, one of the more Horde-friendly members of the House of Representatives, participated in the Hollyhock Lane Fourth of July Parade in Grand Rapids Michigan. But my favorite part of the parade is kids on bikes. Brings back memories.

hollyhock lane.JPG

Making Memories

The parade is traditionally led by local teens who portray Uncle Sam and Miss Liberty.

After the marching, locals participate in a short program involving a flag-raising and singing the National Anthem.

A neighborhood association explains the focus of the parade:

For over eighty years, the Hollyhock Lane Parade has welcomed each Fourth of July morning on the streets of the northwest portion of Ottawa Hills. Started as a bike parade for kids in 1934, it was a way to entertain the kids at little cost during the Great Depression. It then became a tradition in itself when the neighbors running it incorporated as the Calvin-Giddings Patriotic Association, with the objectives "to Instill Patriotism" and "to Promote Neighborliness."

I love that.

Hollyhock Dolls

Did your Mom teach you how to make hollyhock dolls as a child? Mine didn't. She thought hollyhocks were a sign of poverty, because they grew with no care at all around the homes of poor people, including her own family. She was ready to leave that plant behind for something more civilized. But I grow hollyhocks today. In my case, they may still be a sign of poverty, or at least drought.

But those little dolls are kinds cute. Here are some good instructions for making Hollyhock Doll Cupcake Toppers.

Here are some summer fairies made from other kinds of flowers. Some of these would be fun for crafty members of The Horde.

Growing Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks are one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden, other than weeds. Many of the tall ones do not bloom until the second year. They are biennials or short-lived perennials. There are some strains that bloom the first year, though. These are generally shorter than full-sized hollyhocks, with more branching. Hollyhocks prefer regular water when young, but can take a lot of drought when established. The will take heavy clay soil. They are best in full sun, but will tolerate quite a bit of shade. Hollyhock rust may be worse in shade.

The single flowers look like hibiscus. Alcea ficifolia, the fig-leaved or Antwerp hollyhock, is said to be more rust-resistant than common hollyhocks. I'm not sure if there is definitive data on this.

Some of the doubles are quite elegant. Until they stalks start going to seed. More in the comments.

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Peaches 'n' Dreams

Hollyhocks in Japan

Hollyhocks may be rustic and homey in the USA, but in Japan, they are an imperial flower, with their own parade and festival every year in Kyoto. interesting history.

Nothing much is going on in my garden right now. Maybe I should plan a trip to Japan. Anything going on in your garden?

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posted by Open Blogger at 12:45 PM

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