Hollyhocks may be America’s most beloved garden flower. They can be found in farm houses, cottages and bungalows from coast to coast. Many of these old stands have been reseeding themselves naturally for almost a century.
A black hollyhock selected from Flower Head Shots in the Mo Plants Free Graphics Gallery at http://www.moplants.com/gallery2/v/Flower+Head+Shots/
The black hollyhock is among the most magnificent of these plants. It was grown at Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, Monticello, and seeds of the original strains are still available there.
Hollyhocks are technically biennials. They grow from large flat seeds the first year and bloom. The plants will die back at the end of the season and winter over in the ground. Come spring the same plant produces a multitude of huge flower spires for a truly magnificent effect. Both first and second year flowers are followed by easy to harvest seed about the size of a hole punch disk. It’s very easy to harvest and may be collected every year for future plantings. In fact, you can save quantities to hand sow on rough tilled ground for a whole new patch of hollyhocks. If left to their own devices they’ll fall to the ground and self sow. This self sowing nature is what allowed those farm house plantings to survive as long as they have.
Old Barnyard hollyhock strain offers rich, deep colors.
Pioneer women often exchanged their seed to obtain a more varied color range. This is most evident in the “Old Barnyard” strain which includes the richest range of hues. This group reflects the same look as the old black hollyhock with a wider range of purples and deep reds as well as orange and yellow.
It’s easy to add the Old Barnyard strains of hollyhock to your garden this year. The seed is available to order online from Park Seed (See Cool Links). But if you’re not up to sowing your own you can spend a bit more and buy living plants online too. Check them out at Wayside Gardens (See Cool Links) Buy your Old Barnyard hollyhocks and start saving seed for future gardens filled with the charming delights of yesteryear.