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Archive for the ‘Hollyhocks’ Category

...dark chocolate, almost black


It’s one of those rainy winter weekends when I get to catch up on those garden tasks that do not require my presence in the great outdoors. So yesterday, I sat and pulled my black Hollyhock seeds out of their capsules. There are quite a few! So, I’m going to share them with you. How awesome would it be if next Summer my little flowers, which originally came from Andrea, were spread about the country making someone else happy?! If you’d like to try some in your own garden, please make a comment here with your address in it and I’ll mail you an envelope of Alcea rosea seeds – most likely ‘Nigra’ or ‘Watchman’ cultivars. All comments are approved by me before going public, so I’ll just keep it our little secret and then let everyone know when I run out. Not to worry though, because next fall there will be more, that’s the beauty of plants and seeds.

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She whispered
softly in my ear
something about a Hollyhock.

…just the one.

the ever-prized almost black Hollyhock

even Segundo was impressed

Mr. Segundo Fitzhugh Northcutt

(to those of you secretly mocking my Tuesday post on a Wednesday…yes, I am aware – I rarely get to take the 4th of July totally off work, but this year I did and I have been widdershins since. No worries, by Friday I will have that brain wrinkle ironed out)

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I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

–Richard Le Gallienne (1866–1947)

Miss Peanut answers the call of a Mint leaf

Well, the last week has simply been heaven. Every spare moment was spent planting the seedlings started during Spring Break. Several huge cans full of grass and weeds were pulled as well. There is still a lot to be done, but the garden looks tended again. It’s impossible to express just how good for me this process has been. My intellectual pursuits of the last 20 months were very intense and I had not been grounded in the way I need, which is that special brand of grounded I only get from, well, the ground. All head and no body makes one a bit insane after a time. The garden is medicine. My muscles are delightfully sore and I have a touch of color back in my cheeks. The weather was even on my side with cool cloud cover and a bit of rain midweek. The photos all came out with a bit of fog in the center, so I apologize for the quality – not worth retaking them though. Let’s just pretend that I was going for that vintage nostalgic hazy days of summer sepia toned wonder and call it a day. Later I’ll clean the lens, since I know I probably thumbed it with sunscreen. We get messy when we’re gardening 🙂

Somewhere around 42 Tomato seedlings went into the ground in various spots around the property. They had priority, of course. Those are the leftover winter peas drying on the tops of the stakes so I can plant them later.

the Brandywines are in the ground and all is right with the world

The Artichoke seedlings, 4 of them, came from last year’s fruit.

Artichoke seedling

I found a bird’s nest, probably doves, in a burrow on the ground in the meditation circle. This makes four nests that I save in a special place in the potting shed. They are among my favorite things.

I have quite a growing collection of bird's nests in the potting shed

The Hollyhock seedlings are from Andrea’s seeds, so of course I’m hoping for dark colored flowers!

Andrea's Hollyhock seeds are finally in the ground

Tom bought me an upside down hanging Strawberry planter so I would have more than just a few ripe ones at a time. He loves me.

Tom's Topsy Turvy

There were at least three of these cans full of grass and weeds pulled out to make room for seedlings.

out with the old - in with the new!

At a certain point, I had pulled out so many plants needing new homes, I had to spread out over the lawn. I find I have to make a mess before I can bring about any kind of order.

finding joy amid the chaos

There is still a lot of transplanting to do; finding new homes for what I dug up, re-potting things that have grown out of their pots, moving all succulents and cacti to pots leaving more ground for herbaceous plants, etc…

looking for new homes

When I get it all cleaned up, probably by the Full Moon this coming Wednesday, I’ll be able to sit in my rocking chair and celebrate with a juicy glass of wine. In the meantime, the bees are busy gathering pollen…

greedy little bee in an Agapanthus

…the flowers are blooming…

Roses and Grapes and Andrea's birdhouse

…completely oblivious to the fact that I’m literally turning the entire garden upside down. The only ones to really notice have been the spiders, but we get along famously as long as we respect each others space.

the ever-faithful Feverfew

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Thursday afternoon: no algebra classes for 3 days. There will be stacks of paperwork to catch up on and a Saturday morning yard sale to prep for, a test on Monday morning which will require a few “practice runs.” The lovely thing is that I’ll be able to pace myself through instead of rushing like I do all week, and also have a glass of wine here and there…mostly here.

All week, I’ve been planning my next posting – yarrow – but first, there is something spectacular to celebrate; my Hollyhocks. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the name I use for my posting sites is “1hollyhock” and here’s the story behind that:

When I was just a little kid, we moved from northern New Mexico where we always had a garden, to Phoenix, Arizona where we always had rocks. Dad would rake rocks, water rocks, stack rocks. He moved rocks from one place to another in, what seems now to me, an almost Zen-like ritualistic way. I think my parents tried to garden once, but there were always just rocks. Even our tap water tasted like rocks.

One day, when I was about 14, I decided I was going to grow something in the middle of our rocks. It would be my first gardening attempt since those bean sprouts we grew in recycled milk cartons as a class project in 2nd grade. (I totally adored my bean sprout!) Somehow, I had acquired and hoarded a wrinkled envelope of Hollyhock seeds from a box of ‘hand-me-down’ items our church ladies always passed around. So, out I went to the rear of our property, brushed aside some dry chalky dust that was our excuse for soil, plopped my seeds down, covered em back up and poured a glass of water on top. No idea whatsoever what I was doing, but those procedures seemed to make sense and maybe I learned something in 2nd grade after all, even if it was only bean sprouts. Every day I went out in the sweltering heat and watered my little mound of dirt and waited for something to happen. Weeks went by and nothing, more nothing.

Then, one day there was a sprout. One single Hollyhock seed found life under the worst possible conditions. I have never forgotten the feeling I had that day, as if I had performed some Goddess maneuver that had never been done by anyone else in all of natural history. It was awesome. It was a powerful moment in my life. That one Hollyhock was the beginning of a love affair that has only become deeper and more enchanting with passing years. It has also become somewhat of a metaphor in my life.

A few years ago, my dear friend Andrea gave me an envelope of Hollyhock seeds from her garden. Yes, it did look like that other envelope so long ago…I planted them and they came up…all of them pink and fluffy, glorious in their healthy splendor, unlike the one from my youth that withered to black ash the moment temperatures rose past 110 Fahrenheit. These Hollyhocks from Andrea’s seeds have been making me smile for years. The darker Hollyhocks have been on my wish forever: they are considered a black flower (even though there is no such thing and yes, I know I always say that) and I love the really dark colors the most. So, I kept trying with more seeds and I even got some “Black Beauty” seeds from Lucie for my birthday. They all got planted along our side fence so I could see them out my office window. Still, nothing but pink. (not that I am complaining in any way)

Until this week! This week, while I had my busy little nose to the grindstone, my dark red/black Hollyhocks bloomed and I didn’t even know they were there! Along the fence, they show up as the same color as the wood stain. They’re beautiful and I can’t even explain how much of “full circle” feeling I have right now. Even better, I don’t know if they’re Lucie’s seeds or Andrea’s seeds but they are definitely from someone who loves me right?

at long last


So today I celebrate the will of a seed to rise above its circumstances and grow to full potential, the magical ways Mother Nature sees fit to reward effort on her behalf, the sheer persistence of life to do what it does, and Hollyhocks.

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Scabiosa columbaria 6-5-10


Tom and I just got back from a weekend in Newport Beach. We went up for business and stayed for pleasure. What a wonderful couple of days it was too. All worries were left behind and we did our favorite things together…romantic walks, romantic lunches, romantic dinners….well you know. When I got back I spent two hours catching up with watering. Everything needed it and by the time I do the orchids and house plants and everything outside, I’m pooped. Tonight I’ll water the grass and be done with water till Tuesday. It’s hard for me to keep on the schedule that the “City of San Diego” wants me to keep with watering. But I do my best.

Anise - Pimpinella anisum


It was strange to come home after only a couple days gone and find the garden the same but very very different. All the plants are still there but the tomatoes went berserk and suddenly need help getting back up in their cages. The grapes have burst forth once again and my previous efforts to vine them up seem to have been futile.

Grapes June 2010


The potatoes are as tall as I am and I haven’t built the dirt up around them yet, I’m missing some tomato cages, the leeks need more soil…As I went around the yard, almost every plant told me it needed some attention and Cicero (my beta fish) needs a good bath since it’s the New Moon and there’s a fungus growing on his Greek temple columns. The list is growing faster than I can think the thought.

Baby Apples June 5 2010


I’ve been focusing on business lately but now my garden needs some love!

Squash Blossoms 2010


But none of it matters today! Sundays and New Moons don’t always fall together, but today they did and I’m taking advantage. No more lists or chores until tomorrow morning. For now, I’m off to watch “dude tv” with my husband and son and this evening I’m watching the first episode of the new season of True Blood: the only TV show I really really like any more and the one thing I’m doing tonight no matter what! I’ve been waiting forever for it to come back and I’m not missing a moment of it!

Swiss Chard, Hollyhocks, Nasturtiums, Tomatoes, Feverfew


So right at this moment, I’m about as happy as one can get. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining at last, I just spent a romantic weekend away with my man, the flowers are blooming and my garden looks better than ever, there are sparkly bubbles in my favorite Champagne flute, True Blood is on tonight, I’m feeling good and I’m in a good mood, the Moon is New…none of this is going to last, so I’m off to wallow in it. Happy Sunday everyone!

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Thyme blossom


Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still cleaning up the multitude of messes caused by the month we know as “April 2010”. There is no way I will ever remember exactly all that happened, but I think I accomplished a hellofaLOT! There was almost too much of everything; severe weather extremes, paperwork, taxes, people, ringing of the doorbell, firings and hirings, math tests, fights, love, heavy sighs and cursing, joy and despair. At least the moon is finally waning, which makes the clean up easier, and I got to spend some time with my family in between all the other crap.

The garden took a backseat. It had to for the sake of everything else but, if your garden cannot survive a little neglect when times are busy, it isn’t the right garden for you. It won’t be until next week that I can get out there again and put things back in order, or have time to write anything properly here. In the meantime, here are some photos I took of April’s activity in the garden (and Happy Friday!):

Hollyhocks are blooming


Happy Roses



Apple blossoms


Potato plants


Evening Primrose

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