Tag Archives: hollyhock

Planting Before Father’s Day and After

Iowa Tiger Lily

Iowa Tiger Lily


Iowa Tiger Lily

Lilies! They abound in the garden right now—especially the tall native Iowa Tiger Lily, commonly seen in ditches around the state. I planted some in my gardens so I can enjoy them up close—and they are my favorite lily. They are pretty, large and very hardy—compared to hybrid lilies which seen likely to fade in a few years, these lilies are tough.

And they spread, which is there one downside. Anyway, some recent garden pictures here in my Facebook floral gallery.

The Friday before Father’s Day, when plants went on sale at a local HyVee Drug Store, I picked up some comfort plants. None are new to my gardens, although some represent species that have died out. In past years, for instance, I had some nice Hollyhocks, but have not seen them for several years. I keep trying to plant new ones, but seem to have trouble getting these started—still, two Hollyhocks were among the comfort plant purchased, along with two Foxglove, two Butterfly Flowers (a kind of Milkweed) and two Shasta Daisies.

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To make room in a fairly sunny area (all of these are sun-loving flowers), I dug out some native Tiger Lilies, which ended up moved to other backyard gardens.

And today, more than a week later, I saw some inexpensive peony roots at a farmers market in Hiawatha, and bought one. More lily relocation was done to make room.

My wife is convinced the new peony looks terrible, and she is right, but my experience with transplanted peonies is that the tops often die, but that doesn’t mean the plant won’t come back. Anyway, I hope this one does because it’s supposed to be pink—a color of peony I like, but don’t happen to have in my gardens.

We had plans to add a new garden in back this summer, but it looks like that project may get put off. Time is getting away, as it often does. Still, it always feels like an act of hope to put new flowers into the garden—so here’s hoping for future Hollyhocks, Peonies, Daisies, Foxglove and Milkweed!

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What We Planted On Monday

A pot spray painted by my wife, who is planning to plant petunias in it soon.

A pot spray painted by my wife, who is planning to plant petunias in it soon.

Monday: Go to the office? I should, but my daughters, who plan to ride a day of RAGBRAI with me this year, are coming over for a bike ride this afternoon.

And I have plants to plant. The neighborhood HyVee Drug Store is starting to cut the price of its plants. My wife got some planters from her sister, who is going to put on a house on the market and is downsizing , getting rid of “stuff,” and so she wanted to get some annuals.

Me, I had my eye on some perennials. She bought a flat of petunias. I’ll list what I purchased below.

I don't think she planted these today, but here are some of the flowers my wife has put in the pots that decorate our deck and front stoop.

I don’t think she planted these today, but here are some of the flowers my wife has put in the pots that decorate our deck and front stoop.

So my free time this morning was spent doing one of the most pleasant of tasks, the season for which is coming to a close: Putting new flowers in the ground.

Monday morning--ready to plant.

Monday morning–ready to plant.

Here is what I planted:


Siberian Iris, above, Dwarf Yellow Iris, below.

Siberian Iris, above, Dwarf Yellow Iris, top

Four Irises: two blue Siberian Iris, two Dwarf Yellow Iris. As long-time blog readers may know, I have a somewhat troubled relationship with the Iris. I’ve planted many bulbs over the years, but have only a few clumps to show for the effort.

However, I have had more luck with plants than bulbs, so there is some hope. I put the Iris in a garden next to a pear tree by the clothes line. At this time of year, it only gets dappled sunshine, and Iris love sun. However, Iris also bloom in spring, and this is very sunny in the spring, turning shadier as the trees leaf out. And the garden does get some afternoon sun, even in the shady times, so I hope that’s enough.

This year's Holllyhock. Has buds so it should bloom this year. Please come back and bloom again.

This year’s Holllyhock. Has buds so it should bloom this year. Please come back and bloom again.

A “Queeny Rose” pink Hollyhock. I used to have some pretty black Hollyhock that bloomed in the garden by the house, but Hollyhock apparently is tender and tasty to rabbits, and in a couple of seasons they nibbled the old Hollyhocks to extinction. I planted some Hollyhock last year, and have not seen them this year. I feel duty bound to plant at least one each year and hope. This one went in the garden where the old Hollyhocks thrived. I have not seen a bunny in the yard this year—knock on wood.

Tag says butterflies like it. So we'll see if this flower can grown and bloom.

Tag says butterflies like it. So we’ll see if this flower can grown and bloom.

A Bradbury’s Monarda. I don’t know much about this plant, I have none of this in my garden, so this is an expteriment. It’s also in the garden by the house.

“Bloom in fall,” the tag on this Brown-Eyed Susan says. Yet, it is blooming now.

A Mini Brown-Eyed Susan. I have some Black-Eyed Susan in other areas, and assume this is pretty much the same, with a lighter center flower and slightly smaller growing habits.

Coral Bells failed to take off in this spot. We'll try again with a new flower.

Coral Bells failed to take off in this spot. We’ll try again with a new flower.

A Goldstrike Lady’s Mantle. This is marked as being a bit shade friendly, and I put it in a slightly shadier part of the garden where I put the Iris.

Eight plants, in total, in two adjacent gardens. We’ll see how this goes!

In other garden news, I noticed a Coneflower coming up in the Pear Tree garden. I’ve tried introducing this plant in that garden several times, using rogue plants, seeds and purchased roots. I don’t know whether this plan is from seed, a recent planting or the purchased roots, but I’m glad to see this flower in this garden. I’ve noticed lots of Coneflowers blooming in town, and some of my gardens, especially the east one beside the house, are going to be glorious with Coneflowers soon, although none of mine have bloomed yet.

At least this wet, strange summer seems to be friendly to my trees and flowers.

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The Brave Little Hollyhock


A late hollyhock shines in the late afternoon light of Oct. 26, 2012.

It was cold this morning—frosty, with a low in the upper 20s. The next week is supposed to be like this, as a powerful cold front charged through yesterday, bringing rain and then temperatures that plunged like a lemming over a cliff.

Crab apples

Crab apples in the later afternoon, Oct. 26, 2012. I like the background and partly blue sky, too.

Fall is getting on. Some trees still cling to leaves, but for the most part, the shape of the Iowa land, often cloaked in vegetation, is emerging. You can see the brown hills, covered in decaying leaves, through the grey trunks of cottonwoods, oaks, ashes and others.

So today, when I raked for a while in my backyard, I was a little startled to see a hollyhock—a summer flower—still gamely in bloom. It’s a young plant that I put in just this year, so maybe that explains its odd behavior. I hope being in bloom now doesn’t mean the roots will have any trouble getting into their winter coma. Because, let’s face it, over the next few nights, there’s going to be some damage to these delicate green cells.

Anyway, I dropped my rake and got my good camera and snapped a few late fall images of flowers and crab apples and the few hanging leaves left on the late trees. Here is a flickr slideshow of more.

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Hollyhock Dreams and Lilies in Glory


Hydrangea in shade of oak in back in bloom.

My shy Hydrangea in back has bloomed and has pretty blue and white flowers, as you can see above.  Lilies are also in glory, as seen in this Facebook gallery.


Wiki Commons image of Hollyhock, from Wikipedia “Hollyhock” entry.

This week, I planted four Hollyhocks. I used to have pretty black Hollyhocks in back, but bunnies finally ate them all gone, sadly. These that I planted are yellow or white or red (Menard’s doesn’t distinguish colors). I planted one in the front wall garden and three plants in back.

I don’t know if they will bloom this year—many in town are in bloom already—but I hope the Hollyhock returns to my gardens. I miss them.

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Changes in the Garden While I Was Gone


Hibiscus began blooming during my week riding a bike across Iowa on RAGBRAI

What happened in the world while I was off the grid?

Oh, yeah, Obama caved and there is a budget deal. I’m not quite as angry as some seem to be—congressional Republicans seemed in no mood for rational thinking—but I can’t say I’m happy, either. With a crushing federal deficit to erase, the only answer is crushing spending cuts?

Blah. But I don’t feel into it enough to write a political rant just yet.

It felt a little odd getting back to my gardens after riding across Iowa on RAGBRAI. Despite oppressive heat—the first three days of the ride were proof that despite advanced pudgy middle age, I’m apparently able to tolerate hot weather—Iowa appears fairly lush. A lot of native cone flowers and lilies are in bloom. The corn is high and breathing out a lot of water vapor.

When I got back home, the lawn needed to be de-sticked and mowed, but it felt a little odd that seasons had not changed or anything. RAGBRAI was such an ordeal that it felt like it was much longer than a week—my son Jon and I noted to each other on day two that it seemed we’d been on RAGBRAI for months and not days.

Lizzie and mushroom

Granddaugther Lizzie looks at giant mushroom that came up in front yard--proof it could not have been all dry the week I was gone on RAGBRAI.

Mushroom in yard

Close look at mushroom of doom

When I got back, two of the hibiscuses were in bloom, though not the Rose of Sharon, yet. The biggest surprise is that one of the new hollyhock flowers I had planted chose to bloom this year—hollyhock aren’t always in a hurry to get into gear, and I wasn’t expecting much from these new plants. Nice to see this flower return to my garden, even if I miss the cool looking black ones in back that the bunnies ate out last year.

Well, here are some yard and garden photos. I moved several favored young trees—the walnut tree and two oak trees were sent to the deer garden behind the fence, where I hope one survives but I fear all will be salad. The mushrooms were put into the yardy cart before I began mowing.

Lizzie helped me take these garden photos, in that my visiting granddaughter from England babbled to me and walked around with me while I photographed.

All in all, it was hard to fathom that I’ve been gone only one week. The best sight I saw in the garden I had no chance to photograph—during a family gathering on Sunday, I took out some recycling and was walking by the east side of the house.

A male hummingbird chose that moment to feed on some hostas just two feet away from me.

Well, cool. It was a nice welcome back to the garden. Hope you enjoy the photos.


New hollyhock in bloom

Peace Lily

Potted peace lilies--Spathiphyllum--also bloomed during RAGBRAI

Walnut tree

Couple of oaks and walnuts were transplanted before the post-RAGBRAI mow

Butterfly bush

Butterfly bush in front was already in bloom, but bloomed a lot more.

Bug eater

Spider on the deck. Had to rebuild the web after Sunday barbecue, but got the job done

Snake on a hose

Went to water Sunday after RAGBRAI and encountered this big garter snake. If it's Solomon, he tripled his size, so it's proabably not. To me, while a bit startling, the sight of such a snake in my garden is good news

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Springtime for Sheller in Cedar Rapids

Corcus.  Croci?

Afternoon light was fading, they had been more open. Crocus by mailbox.

I hope a tune from the “Producers” is going through your head.  First views of Spring 2010 gardens.

Burning love and catalpa

Small pot is burning love, which is fading. Big pot is catalpa, which are fading. But, where there is life there is hope.

Overall, some nice springy things happening before the cold snap.  I have not “cleaned” the gardens–removed the leaves from the fall, and will wait, because colder weather is coming.  But first flowers are here, as you can see.

Starting stuff indoors has been mixed. As you can see in the big pot, a couple of catalpa tress sprouted, but in the little pot, most of the “burning love” bushes that sprouted died, and the catalpa are fading.  It’s hard to keep things wet enough to germinate, but not so wet that young roots don’t rot.  Darn.  I partly inherited my mother’s Irish green thumb (mama barely kept any green growing thing alive, gardening was always daddy’s job).

I’ll put some Hollyhock photos at the end, they are looking better.


Snowdrops bloom even before crocus. Should plant more ...

Outdoors, I’m amazed at all that is already growing.  I love the snowdrops, the little white flowers.

Anyway, Audrey is almost ready to go for a walk, so I’m going to publish now.  Update later.

It’s later now.  My original plan was to clean off the gardens during spring break, but we’ll see what I think of that plan next week–it will be getting into the 20s at night, and I’ll have to consider of the lack of sun is a good trade for protection.

Not that I would necessarily know.

Anyway, I have a lot of work to get to for tomorrow, so I’ll round out this blog post with a selection of early spring garden photos.  (I do wish I had a better digital camera, an SLR that would let me focus manually–many pictures did not work when auto focus insisted on making the background in focus).


Note the flowers just coming up in the "new" garden between houses. What are they? I don't know. Not daffodils or crocus. Planted bulbs in the fall, who knows what they are now?

Two perennials

The garden in front by the fence of neighborliness seems pretty perky for early spring. Foxglove and winter creeper (not sure I'm remembering all those names correctly but they are tagged) recently emerged from three months of snow cover, and are already looking "springy."

More snowdrops

The snowdrops are in one of the back gardens--the one by our retaining wall. The bush behind it is fairly new and looked pretty sickly last year, but already seems to be waking up. It's a blooming bush that hasn't bloomed, hope it does this year.


A "Moscow" lilac, is only 6 inches tall so it won't bloom this year. When it does, it will have pretty white and pink flowers, which will be a nice contrast to the purple, pink and blue lilacs we have elsewhere, and a nearby dwarf purple lilac.

Ground cover

Don't remember the name of this plant, some creeping shade-friendly ground cover, but I know it's not a weed, it is something we planted. Back garden by fence.

Crocus in back garden

This one bloomed a couple of days before the ones by the mailbox in front. I think the tulips in the background may regret being in too big a hurry to pop up next week when the lows dip into the 20s.

Hollyhock finale

And the hollyhocks, pink and white, I think. Some will go in front, a few will get mixed in with black hollyhocks in back. I like the black ones, but if these live, I'll like these happier colors, too. These are growing by a window in my laundry room--you can tell in what direction the window is.

Well, that’s it for the first actual outdoor (and a few indoor) photo gallery of the year.  By the way, the absurd tags on my previous post, or perhaps my announcement of absurd tags on Facebook, or perhaps both, did bring a spike in blog traffic, though not as much as the inexplicable spike earlier this year with my bells post.

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