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I had neither seen nor heard of a Hollyhock flower prior to moving to Wisconsin. Do you know about these flowers? Reading up on them, I learned that this flower is almost always associated with farms and cottage gardens, many times they were used to cover the outside of the outhouse. I also learned that it is a plant that has long been used for its medicinal properties, originated in Asia, and people make little dolls with them, by turning them upside down and using the petals as a large skirt. Crazy, right? One day when Anthony and I had a visit from Wayne and Laura (the former owners of our home), we all walked the property together. Laura was pointing out flowers and where they would be coming up when we came upon some of them growing. Laura told me that they were her Grandmother's Hollyhocks and she hadn't seen them bloom before.

Aren't they beautiful? And reminiscent of a Hibiscus? To me, it's just a shame that I can't see them from my kitchen window. A few weeks later, I was on Facebook and saw a photo that my sister-in-law's Mother (Karen) had posted of her gigantic Hollyhocks. And by gigantic, I mean about 8 and 1/2 feet tall.

I told both Karen and my sister-in-law how gorgeous they were and magically, a few weeks later, I got some genuine, bona-fide Hollyhock seeds in the mail from Karen. I'm pretty excited to have flowers that now mean something to me and my family in my yard, something that I have planted myself. Plus, Karen is a gardener extraordinaire and I just know her seeds are top-notch.

My sister-in-law's Dad, Tom. He is 6'7", if that gives you any idea of the height of these babies!

Look what showed up one day last week when Anthony got home:

He had stopped by one of our neighbor's and they said they had been holding these for us since last year. More Hollyhock seeds! These neighbors have a beautiful farm and garden, so I know these seeds will be fabulous as well. I saved my own seeds last year and have started them in combination with Karen's and our neighbors. They are all hopefully growing right now in the basement.

I'm going to do some experimenting. Some seeds I will plant directly in the ground, otherwise known as direct seeding, (see, I AM learning something in my Master Gardener program) and some I will plant inside and grow as seedlings, then will plant those in the ground. I'm going to plant them where I already have some successful Hollyhocks growing.

Starting the seeds in wet paper towels

Keeping them warm by the heater

If all goes well this year, then next year I will start planting some in other areas. Who knows, I may start my own Hollyhock cutting farm.

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