Black hollyhocks – a spectacular surprise

6 Jul

You know all those gardening schemes in schools where kids get to grow their own food? My mum set those up. Awesome, yes? But despite having a parent who’s an actual gardening expert, for years gardening was one of those things I just didn’t ‘get’.

Something finally clicked when I moved into my first place with a proper garden eight years ago.

Later I covered the concrete forecourt of the little flat Al and I lived in with as many pots of tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, chillis, salad, strawberries, herbs and lavender as I could squeeze onto it.

There was no outside tap and we were on the first floor, so I used to lug about 20 buckets of water down the stairs each night, to keep our little produce plot going.


Our old garden – a concrete forecourt covered in a multitude of pots and planters – ooo, look – lettuce!

When we moved into the house we live in now there was a stunning royal purple hollyhock in the garden, but it eventually got hollyhock rust and after fighting a losing battle for a while I dug it out.

To make up for the loss, I planted a couple more hollyhocks last summer. They were supposed to be red and pink – all I could get, and not really the colours I wanted. But it didn’t matter as, pretty typically for our current current place, the slugs ate them. God I hate slugs.

This year they somehow escaped being munched. And something odd has happened. They’re black!

It might be down to cross pollination, as the purple one which is no more managed to seed on both sides of the garden path – two new purple hollyhocks have popped up too.

So there’s going to be a tunnel of dramatically dark hollyhocks to walk through by the end of the summer. Hurrah!

This is what I love about gardening. You think you’re in charge, but you’re not really. You just have to do your best with what you’ve got and sit back and watch what happens.

And sometimes, you get a pretty spectacular surprise.


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