Golden Hollyhocks

July 1, 2007 at 8:27 am (flora, gardens, picasa2, Virginia)

From Neddy’s The Plains Album

“Hollyhocks! Stiff as starch!
Oh, fix your bayonets!
Forward! March!”

Flower fads come and go, but to old timers like me, Summer means hollyhocks. In long ago England the Crusaders returned from the Middle East bearing mallow plants which became “holy hocks”, because “hock” meant “mallow” in English. The bright flowers were a hit in the dark and drab Middle Ages.

In America, the common hollyhock arrived with the colonists. Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello. In the late 19th century the plants were beautifully cultivated on Appledore Island, off the New Hampshire coast, where they were immortalized by the American Impressionist painter Childe Hassam.

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