As time goes by, gardeners are becoming increasingly interested in establishing heirloom varieties in their flower beds. Perhaps it is the nostalgia of remembering Grandmother’s flower beds, or perhaps it is simply that one tires of keeping up with the latest trends. Whatever the reason, heirloom flowers are ‘hot’ this year.
Among the favorites is the ever faithful Hollyhock. Since its arrival from Asia several centuries ago, it has been a staple in both cottage and traditional gardens. A tall, sturdy plant, the charming Hollyhock has a place in every garden. The spires of climbing flowers come in a wide variety of colors which embrace deep purple, all of the pinks to yellow and creamy white. The large, deep green, fuzzy leaves first appear as rosettes and then open to become a pleasing heart shape.
Hollyhocks bloom from June to September providing a summer of beautiful color at the back of the bed. Most bloom the second year better than the first so it is wise to cut back the plant in the fall while keeping a few inches of the stalk. The following year, leaves will emerge robustly in the early spring allowing for flowering to commence ahead of schedule.
Last week I mentioned Lamb’s Ears as an addition to a container. It is quite an extraordinary plant with a history that places it as native to Northern Turkey and Southern Iran where it grows with wild abandon on rocky hills in inhospitable locales. With her adorable silvery-green leaves that are velvety to the touch, this interesting specimen is a truly an eye catcher. This versatile leaf was used during the Civil War as a bandage to staunch the bleeding of wounds and has been famously used by Boy Scouts who are camping in the woods… the leaves are as soft as Charmin and contain no toxins.
Often used in children’s gardens for the tenderness of the leaves which do not bruise, it will happily grow in dry and dusty locations and will thrive in full sun. Lamb's Ear flowers in late spring and early summer with the plants producing tall spike-like stems strewn with small flowers in pale pink, lavender, or white, which may be used in arrangements.
The interest generated by the spectacular leaf properties alone make both the Hollyhock and Lamb’s Ear eye candy in any garden setting.