I chose a white picket fence with a hollyhock for the Seasons of Farm Grove home page because both are traditional elements of “cottage.” This fence frames the front of our barn home and hollyhocks appear here and there. Vintage prints of English cottages don’t seem complete without tall spears of pastel hollyhocks; and along with climbing roses, define the cottage garden.
The single hollyhock is the most old-fashion in feel; besides, you can’t make a decent hollyhock doll from a double skirt–too much petticoat! I’ve tried to introduce more unusual colors into the front bed at times, such as dark red or burgundy. Unfortunately, the whites & pinks, alone, seem to survive and return, at times with interesting variations of tone-on-tone. They are a biennial plant, which means you must plant seeds two years in a row before you have continuous blooms. After that, given the right conditions, they will self-seed and be self-sustaining.
As soon as the plants begin producing flower heads, watch out for green leaf suckers. They are so camouflaged, you may not understand why your leaves are under attack until they begin dieing. A spray of Ortho “Bug B Gon” a few times a month will help, but be tenacious. Has anyone found a natural spray to inhibit these leaf chewers? We can’t have dead leaves detracting from our pristine flowers!