My hollyhocks return every year. I scatter seeds when I remove old plants. Those outside the fence get little attention and almost no water. I tie them up to protect them from the wind and they just keep on keeping on.
The English got their first hollyhock seeds from knights who were returning from the crusades. While in the Holy Land, the crusaders found that this plant had a wide range of medicinal uses. One of these uses was to sooth their horses’ sore hooves. The popularity of this horse hock salve was so popular that many believe it gave rise to one of the first recorded names of this plant: “holy hock.” According to legend, St. Joseph chose the hollyhock as his staff because the plant’s ability to grow in all climates and soils showed God’s love and mercy for all of humankind. Hollyhocks originated in China where they were grown in gardens but also used for food: the leaves were cooked for spring greens and the flower buds were a delicacy. The Romans also ate hollyhock leaves and used it as a strewing herb.
In the language of flowers, hollyhock means abundance, fertility, and ambition. In my garden they are certainly abundant.
“I love this ever-faithful flower
and its abundant staying power.”