Bloggers post about their gardening hopes for the coming month and link up.
This post is a story of hope which began last year ...
In spring 2010 I sowed some perennial giant hollyhock seeds. The dream was to display a row of hollyhocks against the left fence of my garden, to contrast with the row of roses on the right.
Some seeds didn't germinate, others germinated then died, but the last one remaining just got stuck. I related to it in a way.
By last September, it was the size of my thumbnail and the vision of the dream had faded away. I knew that if I left it in a seed tray in the plastic greenhouse, I would forget to water it, so I found a sheltered, moist spot in a flower bed and planted it there to give it a chance to live through the winter. I didn't expect much from it, I was just glad that it was alive.
When it snowed during December, the flower-beds were covered in several inches of snow, deeper than on the ground. Yet when the snow melted, I wasn't surprised to discover it hanging in there : still alive, just a bit soggy.
|30 SEP 2010|
|01 JAN 2011|
It remained in a miniature state till early summer. Then it had a growth spurt which was not ignored by the slugs and snails. At the same time a dormant fuschia awoke next to it which is a useful reference point for the following photos.
|11 JUN 2011|
|03 JUL 2011|
I wanted to capture in one photo : where the hollyhock had come from, where it was going to, the slug-eaten leaves at the base, the fresh growth at the tip reaching for the sun, the buds about to burst open in the middle, and how much I am in awe of it, but it wasn't possible.
At the beginning of August, slender bamboo canes were sufficient to hold the plant upright, as left to its own devices, it would have leaned over into the camelia bush.
|06 AUG 2011|
|14 AUG 2011|
By the end of August, I began to wonder if I had made a mistake selecting giant hollyhock seeds instead of the regular variety as trying to support the plant with slender canes was futile. When it was too tall and the girth of its stem too wide to benefit from their support, they were replaced with a thicker cane offset from the base, to accept the plant's tendency to lean over and to reduce its height. This had the unexpected effect of encouraging side-shoots to turn into upward-growing shoots.
|23 AUG 2011|
|28 AUG 2011|
Then it started to bloom. The promise of the deep burgundy buds and the revelations of the flaring crimson trumpets, starting in the middle and spiralling up the stem were what I had dreamt of fifteen months before, except in pale pink like those I've seen in other people's gardens and there was a row of them. I now day-dream about the crimson blooms on this stand-alone specimen, and if they had been any other colour I would be visualising my hopes in that instead.
|31 AUG 2011|
|02 SEP 2011|
Yesterday as I was walking along admiring people's front gardens, I noticed that all of their hollyhocks were not supported, they just stand erect by themselves. I'm not sure if self-support develops year-on-year. Anyway, noticing that the ex-side shoots, now upward-reaching plants in their own right were developing buds of their own, I made a rash decision to remove the supporting cane. I now have a row of hollyhocks along the right fence.
|02 SEP 2011|
|02 SEP 2011|
And what do I hope for in September ?
In September, I'm going to stop hoping and just enjoy the plants that I have till autumn sets in ....
(though I wouldn't complain if I walked out of my back-door one September day and found the whole row of hollyhocks in bloom at the same time.)
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