Tag Archive: hollyhock

Clearing Out for Spring

Are you getting itchy?


All of this nice weather makes me want to get out to the garden, clear off the mulch and dead plants from last fall, and get ready for spring.


So that is what I did Sunday. People were coming to take raspberry canes from a different flower bed so I worked up front until they arrived.

So many plants are making their way.


The tulips are quite high.


The hollyhocks are making an appearance.


The sedum is in a tightly knitted group, making me wonder if I should not do a little separating.

And there are a few things to look forward to seeing.

Hello, foxglove. Never had one of these before.



And then there is this plant. I am still not sure what it is although my guess would be grape hyacinth. Hopefully the picture is here although it was not on my preview.

I am trying to leave some of the mulch just in case another nasty ole freeze comes out way. But let me tell you, that is really hard to do. Instead, I plan to plant scarlet runner and black-eyed susan vine on one section, and hyacinth bean goes to another place. While I am at it, perhaps I will throw down some poppy seeds.

How are you getting at spring gardening chores?

  Related Posts:

         Bird and Flowers in the Garden

         Surprises in the Garden

         Getting the Impatiens Planted


Surprises in the Garden

Every year, I can count on not knowing what is going to appear next.

Last year I was surprised by the super-tall sunflower and strawberries in the flocks. The year before that, I had a volunteer tomato plant in with the flowers.

There is always something surprising.

This year has been a whole host of surprises.

First was the pink Impatiens plant in the flat of red flowers the husband picked up for me.


Pink in a sea of red.

When I planted these guys, I noticed the first one. The second one was a surprise because not all of the plants had bloomed. The third one was placed in the middle of the red ones on purpose.

The next surprise was a plant I had never seen before, certainly did not plant and did not recognize until I did a search only to find it at an Illinois wildflower site.

Evening Primrose

I thought this was a Joe Pie Salad plant. Wrong!!! But it is lovely just the same and blooms in the evening. That was a nice surprise.

The other day I was looking at a new lily I planted. Could have sworn I order an orange-colored flower. But this is what came up.

It is not a Surprise Lily but what is it?


I was expecting a different flower than this. Problem is I don’t know what I have. Oriental Lily, yes. Variety, not sure.

While I was pondering this, I looked up and noticed another surprise.

Cream Hollyhock


A pure cream-colored Hollyhock. My other cream-colored flowers has veins of color running through them but not this one. I think I know at least one flower I am showing at the County Fair.

Right before I put the camera away I had been trying to get a picture of butterfly. Neither one of us was very patient for that. However, that is when this bright patch of blue grabbed my attention.

Bachelor Button Blue


This plant is hidden in the Obedience Plant and another Hollyhock. But here is it, so deeply brilliant. Makes me wonder what I might see next week.

What surprises are in your garden?

Summertime Flowers

Cream colored Hollyhocks

There are days that I believe I will never get this computing thing down. Guess that is why I am a gardener and not a computer expert. So today I present the latest beauties to appear in the garden. Mine is a three season garden that has blooms going from early spring through late fall. Which means a surprise every now and again.

 This year the holly hocks have spread farther out although they contain the same color range of last year in the marron family. Once again I have a beautiful cream colored flower as well. My neighbor has a beautiful pure pink in a lighter hue that may lead me to steal seeds.

Snapdragons and Petunias

 My porch steps have their usual pots filled with snap dragon volunteers and petunias from the store. The only successful herb from seed planting I had was the cilantro with the small white flowers. I told my husband not to move them as I had wanted some potted herbs up front. That way the chives that are sharing a pot with geraniums will not be all that lonely.


Here is the current showstopper – The Jackmani Clematis. I made sure the string was set in so the vine would go even higher this year. This is the big bloom and later in the season I will get a smaller gang of flowers.


Purple Cone Flower

This cone flower glows, it has been so wonderful. But that is not even the best part of the garden. Now for the surprise.


Evening PrimroseThe closeup.

This evening primrose was a volunteer and a complete surprise once it started blooming. I thought this might be a Joe Pie Weed when it first arrived, which I wanted in order to attract butterflies. This blooms in the evening once the sun goes down and I am enjoying it.
What surpirse volunteers have come to your garden?

The Look of Spring…

Spring is here.

How do I know?

The Forsythia bush is in bloom.

Forsythia Bush


I love that shot of yellow that lets you know the warmer weather is on its way.

I'm Ready for My Close-up.

Some people trim up their Forsythia bush to make it look nice and neat. One of my neighbors made it look like a tree. While I normally hate shaped bushes, this one is pretty nice. It fits with the formal Georgian style home.

The shaped version of Forsythia

There are some other signs that spring is really here. One of my neighbors planted their yellow daffodils against their red brick home and edged the bed with more bricks.

Parsonage daffodils

In my garden I managed to put last years pansies right in the middle of the tulips. Considering they like shade, this might not be that big of a problem.

Yellow Pansies about to bloom

Last but not least are pictures of my peonies emerging. This first picture is of one patch I was able to clear away last years stems before the big storm Sunday night. These guys are standing tall, nestled between star of Bethlehem on the left and tiger lilies on the right. The peonies will keep the rose bush’s feet cooler in the summer.

The red stems are the peony sprouts

I didn’t have time Sunday to clear off the stems from this other bush. See how my laziness has affected the look of the stems. That has been corrected and we are one good rain storm from have great stems.

Old stems in need of removal

Hollyhock to the left and Spider Wort to the right. I like to save some of these removal chores for the spring because it forces me out of the house after a long winter to get it done. Plus, I like leaving the stems for possible mulch and seepage of nutrients to the ground. Tomorrow, I will put in the tomato cages in the center of the peony plants to give them structure and the ability to stand when big rains make them fall with the weight of the flower heads.

How is spring looking in your area?

The Last Planting of the Year

Side view of the front garden for better viewing

Yesterday, I put in the fall mums that will finish off the garden for the year. I made the placement of the new plants to contrast off the existing plants. I am considering getting one more to put in the left corner to balance the view from the front.
This is the last planting of new plants I will do for the year. Soon, I will remove the tomato frames that have held up the peony plants. After that I will cut down those and other perennials that are no longer green.
As the gardening year closes out I am looking at the cosmos plants that grew but never bloomed, the zinnias that are about to bloom, tons of seeds that never produced. I plant to put seeds in this fall that will be next year’s flowers before I put on the final layers of compost and dead leaves.
Sometimes what I will do is leave plants to be winter interest. Plants such as clematis and the peonies. In the spring I clean up the dried out remains that have also protected the bulbs I have layered about. I do put compost on some perennials and the mums in the hope they will come back.
This is also the time of the year I plant bulbs. When I was digging for the mums, I hit some of my tulip bulbs. So I took those out and plan to plant to move them to my hosta bed.
I saw an article this past spring showing how to make that hosta bed better looking in the early spring with a mix of tulips and daffodils. That means I am heading to the garden center with the intention of getting bulbs to make the least loved garden space a little prettier.
Here is my list of plant in the garden this year. Now I can start thinking of what to plant for next year to compliment what is already there.
Bachelor Buttons/Cornflower
Black Eyed Susan
Blackberry Lilies


Four O’Clock
Grape Hyacinth
Morning Glory
Pink Flowering Dogwood Tree
Purple Cone Flower
Purple Obedient Plant
Red Salvia
Spider Wort
Star of Bethlehem
Trailing Geranium
White Cone Flower
White Obedient Plant

Hello, Up There!

The tall sunflower.


Summer may be winding down but my plants are not. 

Oh, sure some have gone by the wayside that are not great in this heat we are having. The tomatoes are coming in fast and furious from our garden.  But just look at my sunflowers. 

The tallest looks to be eleven or twelve feet tall. In another day or two it will reach the window on the second floor of our house. The smaller ones may only be eight or nine feet tall but they have been great for attracting gold finches. The birds hang upside-down to feed on some of the seeds of the sunflower. 

Full view of the plant


Plus there have been butterflies galore and hummingbirds taking a rest on the stems. That little spot of red you see just under the porch ceiling on the left is the hummingbird feeder my husband has placed to encourage the hummers to come around. 

I have had sunflowers in this patch before but never like this. I have never had the response like this to them before. 

I am beginning to think that I had better remember to grab some seeds from these plants so I can have great sunflowers next year. 

See the dark pink buds at the top?But this is not the only tall plant I have that was unexpected. I have one hollyhock plant that seems determined to make it to eight or nine feet tall. 

Most years this plant gets up to seven feet at the most. But I think the hot weather has encouraged a tremendous growth spurt. 

I assume that the shape and color of the flower would be enticing to hummingbirds as well but I have not seen them around that plant. 

Now if you look carefully, you will see a row of tomatoes on the porch rail. I think that was today’s pick alone. 

There is the tall Hollyhock, by the porch support column.


Here is what I know. By the time the husband gets to bed tonight a number of tomatoes will have been turned into pasta sauce starter which is so nice in the winter when fresh tomatoes are no-where to be found. Sure, they come in from another part of the world but who know where or how long those tomatoes have had to travel. Enough of the “Eat Local” lecture.

How about your garden? Do you have a plant growing way beyond expectation?

Small Leaf Eastern European Linden Tree


At the beginning of spring, the flowering trees begin to pop out. One by one they all take their turns to produce beautiful flowers and lovely scents.  

First it is the Magnolias, then Dogwoods, the fruit trees and the sycamores. But the last one may be the best one.  

When I smell the faint smell of gardenia I know the Linden trees have finally bloomed. I find these trees as I walk the dog and will stand under them to inhale their smell because it will not last. I took the picture of the entire tree last week but what does not show up is the thousands of sweet-smelling blooms on this tree.  

Leaf Study


This particular Linden tree is around the corner from my house. It is sweet and pungent. It is also the last of the flowering trees. The heavy scent may be getting  us ready for mid-summer when the air is heavy with the flowering perfumes.  Those cream-colored blooms were white last week. The smell is slowly fading from real life but not from my memory.  

I plan to put on in my front yard, which will have a nasty effect on the perennial garden until the tree is tall enough to shade only the house. In the meantime, I will enjoy the smell that will invade my bedroom in early June.  

Hollyhock Stalks


On my blog’s record of searches, I saw someone was looking for a tall stalk plant. Weed or not?  

This is a Hollyhock, quite the old-fashioned plant. The stalk can get up to seven feet tall. It can be a weed if you do not want it . I have seen wonderful specimens when I drive down alleys in Kankakee. Birds tend to distribute the seeds.  

Most years I get various shades in the maroon family. This year an ivory color showed up and I am not disappointed. It is quite lovely as is the pink flower  

Hollyhock study


that has shown up.  

Once the stalk is done blooming and the seed pods have dried out, I will pick them and distribute them in my Hollyhock patch. It has only take five years of this practice to make the great abundance I now have. 

This plant is a biennial, meaning the plant blooms every two years.  So throwing down seeds now to get a plant this year means flowers arrive next year.  Which means my patch will be even bigger and we can make more dolls out of them than the year before. 

Do you have a favorite plant in your garden, the neighborhood or town/city? 

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her husband and children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.

Is It a Weed or Flower?

Which plant is a weed?

Both plants have flowers. One will have a tall stalk with flowers, the other is an annoying vine with white or purple flowers.

Every now and then I will talk to friends about my garden and we get into the conversation of  “is it a weed or a flower?”

Well, how do you know? Personally, I wait until the plant is a few inches tall if I do not recognize it right off. In my perennial bed I have plants that come back every year and I know them right off. My Hen and chicken (Sedum) has started off quite nice as have the two colors of Obedience plants that live happily with the various Black-Eye Susans.

But there are always a few I am never quite sure of.  I took a few pictures from my garden today to illustrate how easy it is to mess up identification.

Wait, you are saying to yourself. I thought this blog was about family and movies and the occasional alcoholic beverage. Well, it is. But when you live in a cottage, one should have a cottage-type garden. Plus I have noticed that as soon as you bring out the plants to be planted, the shovel and the mulch, kids seem to want to be right there with you. I dig a hole, they put in the plant, we all move the dirt back to the right place.  It works nicely.

This is our daughter’s first year in 4-H. She is doing visual arts and crops. We will grow corn in the back yard. I think that is perfect for her to do this year. One of the other things that was done in the yard today was her little plot of land was heaped with compost and then turned over. In six weeks it will be ready for her seeds.

Now back to the quiz.

Did you figure out the first picture yet? Both are hardy plants, over winter nicely. Both will have flowers. However the one I want is on the left, commonly known as Hollyhock. It will grow six feet or taller. I currently have shades of maroon. I would appreciate other colors but I cannot seem to get them to grow.

The other plant is called creeping Charlie by some of my friends. I call it a major pest and will be ripping it out all summer long. It chokes my Obedience plants and pulls them down. It does the same to my Black-Eyed Susan plants as well. Another pest that does that is Morning Glories. They can be pretty but I work to contain them in one part of the garden or the blasted things take over.

Now lets talk about this next beauty that is resting at the bottom of the page. It looks like a clump of grass. Feels like grass until you pull it out and there are tiny white bulbs dangling from the roots. What do you do? Put it right back, of course and water it.  But how will you be reward?

In mid-June you will notice the grass die back a little and little white flowers, about 1 – 1 1/2 inches wide, bloom like crazy. You might notice little white bulbs in your garden as you put in bedding plants. Just stick them back in, water the ground after you are done putting in the bedding plants and next year you will be rewarded with more of these flowers.  It sounds crazy but this was one of the hidden delights in my garden.

Good luck with your garden this spring and by all means share a secret or two.

St. Mary's Grass

It is a clump of grass that has a white line on each blade. But is it a weed?

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