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Monday, November 13, 2006


Hollyhocks are a biennial, producing clumps of rough-textured leaves the first year from seed and tall flower stalks the next year. The flowers open from tightly wrapped buds beginning at the bottoms of the stalks and progressing toward the tops, producing a summer-long display. Hollyhocks sometimes are short-lived perennials and self-sow. The self-sown plants often differ from the original plant. You can also plant seeds in the fall or spring. Flowers of hollyhocks may be single, double, or even semidouble and are yellow, white, rose, pink, red, lavender, and almost black. There are hollyhocks along a car wash in town that are all red. They are a beautiful scene as you drive by. Flowers may be ruffled or fringed. The old-fashioned types can reach 12 feet tall; modern hybrids grow 2 to 8 feet tall and 18 inches wide. The best place for hollyhocks are in the background of gardens. I have them planted at the back of my perennial garden in front of a white lattice panel.

Hollyhocks require full sun, fertile, well-drained soil; water and fertilize regularly. Plants usually need staking. Rust fungus, Japanese beetles and spider mites disfigure foliage, but not flowers; pest control needed.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I will be dividing my hostas this fall. I have several plants that are growing along the east side of my house. Last spring I built a block patio and have now decided to put hostas around the edges. Hostas grow into clumps that can easily be divided. I have had success dividing them in the spring or the fall. In just a couple of years, each plant has increased to a nice full clump.

There are so many kinds of hostas. I mostly have the larger plants, as they make such a nice spread around the foundation on the east side of the house. Also, they grow with such thick foliage weeds seldom have a chance to grow among them.

Hostas have leaves that are heavily veined or puckered. They have leaf colors that are emerald green, blue-gray, cream, yellow and in many variegated patterns. Hostas form lush clumps that vary in size from dwarf to knee-high. Many types produce lilylike flowers that can be lavender, purple, or white, blooming in mid to late summer. Hosta foliage are eye-catching and last the entire growing season. Plants grow 6 inches to 3 feet tall and wide.

Hostas combine well with fine-textured plants such as ferns and astilbes. They grow best in light to full shade. There are plants now that grow in sunlight, but I haven't tried them. They like fertile, humus-rich, moist soil, but tolerate average conditions. I find they require little care and even though this was a very hot, dry summer, I didn't water them often.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Have you noticed those large blooms in the summer on hibiscus bushes? The flowers can measure up to 12 inches across and are composed of red, pink or white petals that are crinkled like tissue paper. They are startlingly large saucer-shaped flowers, beginning to bloom in late summer and continuing until frost. Another name for these flowers is rose mallow (that is what my mother used to call them). The plants grow 5 to 8 feet tall and are excellent for damp or wet spots in the garden. Plant container-grown plants in spring, spacing at least 3 feet apart or sow seeds in the spring. I have just now sown seeds in my flower garden. I have learned that I need to mark them so I'll know what they are when they emerge late in the spring. They like full sun but can do well in light shade. Fertile, humus-rich, moist to wet soil is what they like best. Be sure to leave plenty of room, as they do make quite a large bush-like plant.

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