Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Late June Mallow Mania

Fernymoss took a bunch more photos today while he was out weeding and presented me with a lovely batch of blooms I'll be posting as I can during this busy time at work. So, I thought it would be fun to stay in the Mallow mode after yesterday's blast from 'Sun Showers.' The Malvaceae is a huge family of plants, comprising over 200 genera and over 2,300 species (see Wiki link above for details). It even includes such agricultural crops as Okra and Cotton! (That was something I just learned tonight.) Regulars here already know about our passion for Mallows, and we have an ever-increasing number of species, to which we are always adding new ones when we find one we like (or one finds us, as is the case with the 'Prairie Mallow.') So here are a few for your delectation, some of which may be familiar or others you might consider adding to your garden ... all the species represented here are quite easy to grow from seed, and have a long, proliferous bloom season!
This first example is the lovely "French Hollyhock" or Zebrina Mallow (Malva sylvestris), one of our favorites. We planted a pack of seeds quite a few years ago and it has now made itself quite at home in the sunnier end of the front Boulder Bed (in fact, this year it achieved 'weed status') and some who are in the way are going to have to move to a bed behind the house or (gasp!) get pulled to make room for other plants. In normal times these blooms should be just covered in bees, but this year, well, our bees have disappeared. (See this previous post for details.)

Hollyhocks (Alcea biennis) are often cited by gardeners as one of their favorite old-fashioned flowers from childhood, and we're no exceptions ... when I didn't have a space to garden (the old apartment days) I always longed to have them in my garden. Well, we're just happy that this one survived to bloom this year! Last year we had several really large plants gearing up to bloom this year, but alas, they served as a tasty dinner for the rabbits in early winter, and aside from some very small seedlings coming up now, it's the only one we'll see bloom this year. I sure wish Pepa could have been around for the Great Mallow Massacre, because she would have at least given those wascally wabbits a run for their life, or even better, a quick escort to the Great Rabbit Reaper. Oh well, we can replace them, but it sure doesn't endear the rabbits to me any more than in the past (when one year they ate and entire bed of Larkspur!).

Enjoy, but please don't eat the Hollyhocks ...

Editorial note:

I had planned to include some photos and comments on our 'Prairie Mallows' (Sidalcea malviflora), but Blogger is acting up tonight and freezing up and losing photos and text, so if I can successfully publish this post, I'll consider myself lucky. I guess I've been "Bloggered" as I've seen other bloggers call it. No matter what, it's been a frustrating night in Bloggerlandia. I'm hoping things are back to normal next time, because we've got a lot more going on right now to show off!


boran2 said...

Love those Hollyhocks! Beautiful photos, IVG. The bar has now been officially raised. ;-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2, bar raised only to fall on our heads sometime soon, I'm sure! LOL

Yep, we love 'em too ... I think they should be in most gardens with sun, epecally a Savage Cottage Garden such as ours... :-)

Shady Gardener said...

Hi IVG! :-) I love hollyhocks! And yes, it's due to childhood memories. But then, the single variety kind of disappeared for a number of years... and I didn't want the doubles. Glad they're back, but I'll enjoy them on your site. I have too much shade! :-(

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady! Nice to see you back! Hope you had a good trip and fun with the grandkids...

Yep, those single ones are harder to find in the common venues for seeds, but Park Seed and (the project based in Decorah), still have nice single varieties. We don't care much for the doubles either and try to avoid them. We did find a pack of the 'Black' singles last weekend that is going in this summer to replace those eaten by the rabbits. The small seedlings I've been finding at the far end of the herb/pepper bed should likely be singles, but we'll have to wait until next year to find out.

Yep, they sure wouldn't work for you where you are, so I'll try to make sure any different ones posted.

How are your Toad Lilies? Ours are growing like weeds! One is already 3 ft tall and growing!

Shady Gardener said...

You gave ME a chuckle when you mentioned you've planted BLACK hollyhocks! :-)

My Toad Lilies are ALL doing great! My older plants are getting LUSH and my new little fellows look very healthy!

What a summer we're having! It's been so cool, temperature wise, that I just finished planting a couple more items tonight! A new clematis, a "dwarf goatsbeard," a heuchera (the tag's outdoors), and a couple of purple asters! And I'm headed for a little more dirt tomorrow. Yea! ;-)