Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Green light, glowing flowers

Do you get those late afternoons when the setting sun’s rays seem to cast a green glow over everything? It reminds me of photos people take while scuba diving (not me) when they aim the camera up through the green depths toward the sun. There must be a name for it but I don’t know what it is. Actually, when I mention this to people, no one knows what I’m talking about so it may be early signs of glaucoma, but it sure is ethereal-looking. Anyway, we had an evening like that last night, after a blistering 100 degree day. The colors of the flowers were pretty much glowing so I took some photos of my giant hollyhock.

This hollyhock was a spindly creature for years, (yes they self-sow everywhere) growing in the shadow of an enormous upright juniper. The overgrown juniper dwarfed the house, and tried to lay claim to the driveway space too, and when I could no longer get the car in the garage without scraping the sides, the tree man came and took the juniper out. I should have done it years ago. Now there's a baby flame maple there, which isn't big enough to cast much shade.

The hollyhock breathed an almost audible sigh of relief, sucked up all the sunshine, and decided to reach for the sky. This year it’s 7 to 8 feet tall with the girth of a mighty oak. My neighbor was over the other day, did a double-take and said "what the hell's that giant thing?" as if I had surreptitiously planted it under cover of night. Really, it's hard to miss.

Half the fun of hollyhocks is seeing what color they will be when they bloom each year. It’s never the same in my garden. Most of them (planted years ago as a mix of white, pink and red) turn out a deep maroon color which I’m not crazy about, but my brother-in-law in the desert thinks they’re fabulous. I always hope for pink, and a cherry pink as long as I’m hoping. Hoping and wishing seemed to pay off this year.

Another stand across the yard shows definite apricot tones, with a few white ones thrown in.

These remind me of the flowers we used to make in school when Sister wasn't looking. We used a couple of pieces of kleenex, though I don't think we had apricot-colored tissue back then.

In the back yard, this hollyhock obligingly self-sowed in just the right spot. Ooh, cherry pink! In the next few weeks, the leaves will be full of holes (earwigs and such) and rust will take over. I'll cut them down to the ground and a fresh green rosette of leaves will soon appear and there will be a second blooming, but nowhere near as glorious as the first.

This evening, no green glow and the temperature plummeted to 80 today so I could get serious about prying the weeds out of the cracks in the driveway. This job requires my favorite gardening tool - the kneeler. A beer helps give me a bit of a glow too.


Lynne said...

It's funny but I was thinking that your hollyhock close-up reminded me of the flowers we made with tissue paper and pinking shears as kids and then you described something so similar! I hope things cool down a bit your way.

Anita said...

Oh, I adore hollyhocks and yours are gorgeous! I sowed a couple of seeds at our garden fence last year and in 2005 and they are starting to bloom now! Wonderful!

Happy gardening!

La Gringa said...

I haven't been able to get hollyhocks started here in Honduras. Maybe it was the seeds, maybe it's just too darn hot.

We used to make dolls out of hollyhocks. I'm not sure I remember. An open flower was the skirt and I think two different size buds were the body and the head -- with a pin stuck through the whole thing to hold it together. What memories!

Your hollyhocks look beautiful.

Britt-Arnhild said...

You have a beautiful and charming garden.
I'm glad I found your blog.

Here in Norway we have this glowing light very late in the nights now during summer. I love it.

I have a main blog over at Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods, but you also find my daily gardenblog at:

Zoey said...

A little more weeding, a few more beers and you will be glowing just like those hollyhocks! Which are real beauties.

I keep hearing how they self sow like weeds, but when I planted them nary a one came back the next year.

Geez, we've been complaining about the heat here, too. It's only been in the 80's. Still too hot for me to get out and do any work this week.

I remember making those kleenex flowers by the hundreds. My Aunt used them to decorate cars for her wedding in the 1960's.

Mary said...

I remember making flowers like that from tissues! The Sisters all think alike, I guess :o) Thanks for the memory.

You have a lot going on around your house and maybe I'm not seeing things right, but are most of your shrubs and flowers taller than you? They're all pink giants.

Jean said...

Love all your hollyhocks! I haven't had much luck seeding themselves. I bought 4 yesterday for a dollar each and thought I'd try again! Yours are beautiful!

Bev said...

LR...you have absolutely gorgeous hollyhocks! And your enthusiasm makes me appreciate them more. For some reason, some kind of bug eats holes through all the leaves on the 2 plants I have...not much luck with them.

I DO know what you mean about that glow. Especially when it gets later in the season. Thought it might be the angle of the sun? Sometimes it seems yellow to me. Best time for taking photos!

KGMom said...

Lovely garden you have there.
For a minute, I thought the beer was what you used to give the flowers a glow. But no, it's for you--now I understand.

Carol said...

I thought there at the end you were going to tell us that the beer was your favorite gardening tool! Your hollyhocks look great. Do you have to stake them? I had some a few years back and it seemed like the day they were at their peak, we'd get a big storm and they would all end up flopping over because I didn't stake them.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Crepuscular rays.

Annie in Austin said...

We made the flowers from tissues with bobby pins for the centers... seems like there were fountain pens and colored ink involved to shade the edges.

I reread Eleanor and Cassandra every year, too, LostRoses.


LostRoses said...

Lynne, I guess a lot of us spent time making kleenex flowers in our youth! Wonder if kids still do that? I forgot about using pinking shears on the edges.

Anita, I bet you'll enjoy those hollyhocks, the perfect addition to your beautiful garden!

LaGringa, maybe it was the seeds, since I don't think it can get too hot for a hollyhock. They're the quintessential back alley flower, thriving without care where nothing else grows. I think you described the hollyhock dolls perfectly - a former neighbor told me that's how she and her friends used to make them! Hmm, maybe I should try that?

Hi Britt-Arnhild, thanks for visiting! I'm glad someone else enjoys this glowing light too. I'm going to check out your blog!

Zoey, some jobs just require a beer. But if I had more than one, I'd not only be glowing, I'd be finished for the evening! Maybe hollyhocks like heavy clay soil (which I have) because they sure aren't picky about where they choose to grow here.

Okay...decorating wedding cars? That was a lot of kleenex!

Mary, I do have a lot of plants taller than me, but I tend to like the weedy types that'll do that! As for the Sisters, did you have rosary-making class too?

Jean, what a good buy! I hope you have good luck with your hollyhocks. Lots of sun!

Bev, earwigs just love hollyhocks! I don't try to control them because it seems rather pointless when I know I'm going to cut those big old plants to the ground anyway after a few weeks and let them start over again.

Lower leaves on hollyhocks get nasty and brown in short order and I often trim those off just to "pretty up" the plants.

I think you're right about the angle of the sun causing that glow, and our mountain shadows might have something to do with it too.

kgmom, the flowers didn't need any help getting that glow, the beer was strictly for me! Though I have used beer in the past to trap slugs but that was just too disgusting!

Carol, the beer is a close second when it comes to gardening tools! No, I never stake the hollyhocks, they don't ever seem to need it. The stems on those babies are like tree branches!

Xris, I think you're right. When I was trying to google the "glow", crepuscular rays kept coming up in the results. The next time I see it I'm going to pay attention to whether there are rays or not. Thanks for steering me in the right direction!

Annie, that's right, we did color the edges too! The things I've forgotten. Which also makes it easy to re-read my favorite garden books each year, they're "new" to me each time!

chuck b. said...

I'm very aware of that quality of light you're talking about when it comes into the garden. I love it. And I have no words to describe it either.

Bob said...

I know exactly what you are writing about. I thought you discribed it well because I understood what you were thinking. It often happens in the evening, just before dusk.

Love the hollyhocks. Have thought of planting some but know how they reseed, I have heard the dwarf doubles don't do this. Any thoughts on this?

Happy gardening, BOB

CountryGirl said...

I love hollyhocks and you don't see them in every garden. There were a few here when we moved in but I started some from seed that seem to be taking. I never knew you could cut them down and get a second flowering. Ours bloom later than yours but definately worth a try. Thanks for the tip!

kate said...

There's something about that time of day when the sun casts an interesting glow and the garden looks wonderful.

I love all the different colours of Hollyhocks. They sound like Columbines - always a mystery what colour they will be!

Ellen said...

Hollyhocks are one of my all-time favorite flowers, can't have a garden without hollyhocks. Funny, I actually really like the marroon color. I got 3 creme de cassis hollyhocks this spring.
The light can indeed be spectacular this time of year. Those are the times we need to remember when it is 20 below and the snow is coming down sideways.

LostRoses said...

chuck, so it's not just me. Glad you also experience "the light"!

Bob, that's the best description I could come up with, glad you recognized it. As for the dwarf doubles, I've never grown any but the giant ones pictured. So I have no experience with the ones you mentioned, but I'm intrigued that there is such a thing!

Countrygirl, you're right that you don't see them in every garden. I'm glad you have some in your country place, where they rightly belong! I think people shy away from such a large, unruly plant. And I found out they rebloom because I'm forced to cut them down after awhile, they get so nasty from the earwigs and rust!

Kate, don't you love the anticipation of mystery plants? And that green glow happens only occassionally here which makes it even more special.

Ellen, I had to look up Creme de Cassis hollyhocks, wow, those are stunning! I like the way the color fades around the edges. Have yours bloomed yet? I'm way behind the curve on new varieties. I was amazed to find out the old standard "Blaze" climbing rose has been improved! Doesn't look a thing like the old ones I've got growing on a fence.

I'm going to try and remember that light when it's -20. My imagination is not that good though!

Naturegirl said...

Yes I know that soft glow in the garden but the glow I speak of in ~MY garden~ is different from yours!
Hollyhocks are a flower that I admire but have never grown them. I just don't have the right space to allow the height! I agree some shades do look like paper. I leave the weeding up to natureboy . Happy weekend NG

LostRoses said...

naturegirl, you probably get a glow from the "northern lights" too!

I could use a natureboy for weeding. {grin}

Andrea's Garden said...

hi there, I love them, too. They were the first seeds I have gotten from my mom when I moved from the States back to Germany. Since there is still lots of space, I allow them to seed. If they are in a spot where I don't want them, I pull them. They're easy to control. The rust is ugly, but I can live with it. Some spray them the same way as they spray their roses, but I have found that to be a waste of time. In Germany they are called "roses on a stick", how true! The beer looks good, but you ought to taste a Bavarian one. That's what we had bbq'ing yesterday. Andrea

Cottage Magpie said...

Hi there! I just came over from your comment on my blog, and I am so glad I did! Your blog is wonderful and I can't wait to see more. I know **exactly** what you mean about the light, and the pictures of the Hollyhocks are stunning! I would absoltely die to get some seeds from you, especially of the apricot colored ones. Aren't they lovely? I also like the maroon and the cherry pink, too. ~A :-)

NatureWoman said...

Your hollyhocks are beautiful! And I know what you mean by the green glow all over everything - it's absolutely beautiful!

snappy said...

I love the soft green light that you can get as the sun is slowly setting.I blogged about my flats green glow as all the plants green leaves catch the light through the windowsills.I think Hollyhocks do look like tissue paper glued onto a surface.Enjoy your beer to cool down Lostroses.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

It seems to be hollyhock time, which is fine by me as I love them to bits. At the moment I have only the black ones in my garden but I think other colours will come too in the next few years. ;-)

And no, it's not glaucoma, I've noticed the green time as well, as did Snappy, I see. ;-) A very special moment when that happens.

LostRoses said...

Andrea, "roses on a stick!" I've never heard that one, but it's pretty descriptive, isn't it? And I'm afraid my taste in beer is rather desultory - I buy 3.2% at the grocery store.

Cottage magpie, thanks so much for your nice comments! I'd be happy to save some seed, but unfortunately, since mine have all cross-pollinated with each other, the seeds would not come true to the parent plant. I never know what color each plant will be the following year. I hope I'm lucky enough to get cherry pink next year, since the last time that one bloomed it was pale pink!

naturewoman, ah, good, another glow-lover! By the way, I haven't seen it again since I posted this.

Snappy, I'm off to read your post about the green glow in your flat. Oh yes, I did enjoy the beer!

Yolanda, I've never seen the black ones here, only on your blog! I think mine are too old to morph into such snazzy colors. Keep an eye out for the glow!

rusty in miami said...

You are so lucky, those hollyhocks are so beautiful. They are one of my favorite flowers but in Florida they don’t grow like yours. I never seen the peach color.

LostRoses said...

Rusty, that peach color is the result of cross-pollination of several plants over the years. I didn't plant it that way!

Anonymous said...

i love your hollyhock flowers. i so wanted to grow some this year but could only find seeds of mixed colors. i wanted to plant same colors together.
Very nice!

LostRoses said...

Becky, when they reseed they intermingle the colors of the hollyhocks growing near them, so you never know what you'll get the next year. Surprises in the garden!