Gardener's Grapevine 2012.10.03

Written by David Green.

I am sitting in the dining room visiting with my mother-in-law Betty Erbskorn, who is more like a mother to me, and enjoying a Sunday afternoon catching up. She is a very kind lady and is also a great gardener and talented florist. She is putting together a wreath and some decorative items I intended to use for the office for harvest time. She is doing a far nicer job than I ever could have and my co-workers will be surprised. She worked for Kibler’s Flower Shop for 13 years. She tells some great stories about working there and the things they did. I am blessed to have such a sweet lady in my life, it’s no wonder her son is such a good man.

While she was here she told me she had some hollyhock seeds someone had given to her and wanted to know when to plant them. So we did a little Googling and found out that you can plant them in the fall or spring depending on when you want to. Planting in the fall gets a good solid root system going. Hollyhocks can stand colder temperatures and while other plants are going dormant they are sprouting and laying down strong systems. The following spring there will be strong sprouts and the stalks will grow more quickly because of the already developed root systems and the blooms will develop from there. The articles also said it was fine to plant them in the spring too, except most of the growing season will be spent in setting down the main root systems and there won’t be many blooms. The second year it will be loaded with blooms.

Hollyhocks are an old flower that came here with early settlers. I made the mistake of planting every color of hollyhock when we moved here. The mistake is that the darker colors dominate and eventually that will be all you have. For a few years mine were pretty then I planted a black one…novelty always grabs me…and all I get now are deep purple flowers that look very black. They’re not so pretty, but they’re extremely hardy.

Hollyhocks do not spread as fast as some perennials​ like morning glory. We fenced the yard in when the children were small to keep the dog in along with the kids. The dog stayed in the fence but not the children, they climbed over about as soon as we got it all up. Our current dog climbs over it and goes with whomever happens to walk by. I had the crazy idea to plant morning glories to hide the chain link from Main Street. I bought a lot of packages of seeds and planted them. Well, the kids are adults living on their own and I am still pulling out morning glories from everywhere possible. Unless you don’t care how crazy they go I would suggest not planting them. Left unattended in a few years I’m quite sure it would be hard to find our house under the vines.

Any time someone offers you a plant they want to get rid of, ask questions, like why? What does it do? How fast does it multiply? That way when you can’t find the dog for all the vines you can only blame yourself!

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014