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.
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.