The Pastoral Elegance of “Alley Weed”

Since I became a true gardener, I’ve loved the pastoral elegance of hollyhock–or, as my grandmother calls it, “Alley Weed” as it grew along the alleys in the Chicago neighborhoods when my grandmother was a child.  I guess my “elegance” is her “weed”; it must be a generational thing!

For several years, I’ve endeavored do grow tall, stately hollyhock blooms with no luck.  Last Summer, I planted mallow (a shorter, more compact variety in the hollyhock family) from seed with sweeping success: the tiny pink blooms were profuse all Summer long–even after I cut them to the ground in Autumn, they continued to flourish.  I also planted a “Zebrina” hollyhock from seed last Summer (smaller blooms like the mallow, but tall like the standard hollyhock of old) with no success.  Despite last year’s lack of growth, they are blooming in profusion in the more unexpected places this year.

Another quick note about the hollyhock: They were used to cover up outhouses because they grew so tall.


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