The Hollyhock Hotel


Hollyhock collection courtesy Jonathan Sheppard of Sheppard Seed Company, UK

Hollyhock season is nearly over as we enter the fall season. I have enjoyed immensely their soft beauty in my garden. They now bloom annually along the side fence, bringing charm, grace, and color to what used to be a long empty stretch of nothing of much interest. And what I find particularly enchanting about them are the pollinators who flit among them, beginning early in the morning. The bumblebees are always the earliest to arrive and the last to leave in the evening. If they leave. For there are always, happily, those who never bother to return to their hives or nests, but opt to simply spend the night tucked into the beauty and comfort of a bed of soft petals. Finding one of them curled safely around a yellow center is always an exquisite delight only to be found at the Hollyhock Hotel.


Sound asleep inside the Hollyhock Hotel


California carpenter bee

The mother loved them years ago;
Beside the fence they used to grow,
And though the garden changed each year
And certain blooms would disappear
To give their places in the ground
To something new that mother found,
Some pretty bloom or rosebush rare–
The hollyhocks were always there.

~Edgar Guest


California carpenter bee and honeybee at work


Red hollyhock from my garden…

Hollyhocks, as you most likely know, take time to cultivate, though they are easy enough to grow. Seeds that sprout will not flower the first year. But once established they will readily self-sow. I do not find them fussy, though I know not to water them if there is not time left in the daylight hours for their leaves to dry out, as they will rust. If you do find yours have developed rust (which will most likely appear on lower leaves first), cut those leaves off and get them off your property. I personally have the practice of looking at each stalk every morning, cherishing their beauty, and pulling off the leaves that have gone yellow. I then shower them at that early time of day so there is plenty of time for them to dry out in the sun. I am grateful that once established they will generously offer their beauty and charm for years to come.

Here’s another of mine along the redwood fence with the Neighbor’s Cat keeping me company.

And I will close this post with another special photo from Jonathan Sheppard, which I am using with his permission. So pretty! He is making it his mission to have hollyhocks acknowledged and protected in the UK. What a gift to gardeners.

I do hope you have tried hollyhocks in your garden and are enjoying them as much as we do!

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Blog and Book Notes: I must share that this post honors 12 years of posting on Plant Whatever Brings You Joy. Many thanks to my many longtime subscribers! I also want to thank the many folks who have read my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden and posted their loving reviews on Amazon. There are now three dozen and nearly every one is 5-star! How gratifying for me as an author that you love what I have written. Thank you!

4 Responses to “The Hollyhock Hotel”

  1. Oh what a lovely post! I do love the hollyhocks, and how sweet that they can offer shelter to sweet bees when they decide to stay.

  2. Hello Dear Kathryn,
    Sadly our Hollyhocks, here in Sonoma, did not re-appear this year – after about 6 years of trying to get them established. BUT, we are sure enjoying these gorgeous Fall days (I think Fall passed us by last year.) and still picking tomatoes, tiger figs, chard and arugula. Always good to see a post from you.

  3. Thanks, Antonia! The neighbors, the pollinators and I all get a lot of mileage from what the hollyhocks offer. I’m so grateful for their presence. Love, Mom xoxo

  4. Hi, Carol! I wonder what happened to your hollyhocks. They are technically known as “short-lived” but since they self-sow I personally experience ongoing new ones. There’s a corner in the back corner I think of as my Hollyhock Nursery as there are always babies coming up back there. Your veggies and figs sound wonderful, though! Thank you for visiting my blog. Always good to hear from you. Kathryn xoxo

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