I love this time of early summer when the flowers finally begin to bloom and are still lush before the real heat and dryness of the summer hits us. I have worked hard the last two years planting perennials in the flower beds around our house. Things are getting established now and filling in the beds well. It makes me happy when I pull up to the house and see all the blooms.
These lilies have traveled with me through three different houses. I had them in my first home that I bought by myself. Then I dug them out when I moved in with Josh. Now they have settled here at Phillips Farm and are doing fabulously. The fence along the pool is nearly invisible in all their foliage and flowers.
I found these multi-colored cone flowers (also known as Echinacea) early last spring. I planted them in with the Black Eyed Susans and they seem to love where they are at. This year they came back about twice their size and they are laden with flowers.
The hollyhocks in the front have been devoured by some kind of bug that makes its home in the leaves, creating dark scabs all over them. The leaves began to shrivel from the ground up, weakening the plant. One hard rain knocked the tall stems diagonal and now they just look sad. I was hopeful they might bounce back but it may be time to just cut them back.
I was so excited when I found hollyhock seeds at Seed Savers Exchange. When my mom and I were traveling in northern Germany a few years back, we visited a seaside town that had hollyhocks growing from every crack in the sidewalk, against every building, in every alleyway... They were enchanting and romantic. I wanted them for my house! I had difficulty finding healthy plants here so when I saw the seeds I thought that might be the answer. I'm disappointed that the insects won out in my quest to grow these pretty flowers. Two years in the making (they're biennials), they will have to be cut back just when they begin to bloom.
Has anyone else had luck growing hollyhocks? What's the secret?