I'm absolutely smitten with Hollyhocks this year! They are a magical must-have for any garden and I'm pleased to say they have been successfully added to the Grove.
The English flower folk name "Hollyhock" is thought to be comprised of "holy" and "hoc". "Holy", from the flower's copious use in the Holy Land and Egypt; and "Hoc" meaning part of the mallow plant family. Hollyhocks were and are present in Europe, Japan, the Middle East and North America - this plant species is believed to have originated in China ... and travelled far, arriving in England during the 16th Century.
Hollyhocks symbolize "female ambition" and with such beautiful blooms, and an average growth of 6 to 10 feet ... it is easy to see why! Due, I suspect, to their height and the possibility of needing staking or protection from the wind, you often see these flowers growing against the sides of houses, along rock walls or garden fences and no English cottage garden would be complete without Hollyhocks. They are also heavily present in graveyards, perhaps as a remembrance that they were used long ago in the funeral preparations of the Ancient Egyptians. This magical flower has been used in a variety of ways including a soothing way to wrap bruises or a horse's sore hoof (hence another folk name "Hockleaf" and perhaps another origination for "Hoc"?). The fairies often use the blooms for skirts or other clothing and so adding these flowers to your garden are sure to please the wee folk as well.
I've recently discovered the existence of "black" Hollyhocks, which are actually a very deep, dark purple ... I would love to add them to our garden as there are a number of "night" plants I want to cultivate. Quick as a flash, no sooner had I voiced this wish, then a friend mentioned she was popping some black Hollyhock seeds in the mail to me. Never doubt the existence of magic in a garden!
Bibliography: The Language of Flowers, Penhaligon's Scented Treasury of Verse and Prose, Sheila Pickles, 1989
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
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