Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Best of Intentions

I've had good intentions when it comes to the flower bed behind the garage but somehow it keeps getting pushed back on the long list of chores to get done.


Over the course of the spring the bed has slowly filled up with hemp nettle, and the hollyhocks showed all the signs of a rusty disease ridden future.  It all needed to be pulled out.  I took this photo in early June to show it before I did the work of pulling out weeds and sickly rust infected plants.


Everything was looking so lush I hated to even weed it.  I did pull out the hemp nettle though (mostly) but I never did dig out the hollyhocks.  Now the bed looks like this.


The hollyhocks are now around 3 feet tall and producing buds.  Oops.  The thing is, I have a hard time pulling these plants.  The seed came from my mother's garden and I still love the idea of hollyhocks in this spot.  The big leaves and tall stature of the hollyhocks pairs well with the plume poppy.  Also, pulling the hollyhock means I have to start over in this bed.

These big hosta also combine well with the large leaves of the plume poppy
I'm miffed that I have to tear this bed apart so soon and start over with little plants.  It's the only flower bed that looks filled out.  The Ruby Bells heuchera are gaining in size and the bright red flowers show up clearly against the blue green leaves of the larger plants.


The three hosta are absolutely huge.  Amazingly these are divisions of a single plant.  Each division has now grown larger than the original plant I chopped up.


I promise though, the hollyhocks are getting pulled.  I can't have them spreading seed in this bed as that would mean pulling hollyhock seedlings for years after.  So remember these photos because the next time you see this flower bed it will be much more sparse.

17 comments:

  1. I am saying this with a grin in my words, but do you have to pull them up?

    A little rust will disappear in the distance.....they must look wonderful.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. Jen I wish they looked wonderful but the reality is they are turning more yellow by the day and the leaves are all dying. There just isn't any use in rescuing these plants.

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  2. I am with Jen. I love hollyhocks, rust and all. Hope you don't get all the seedlings.

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    1. Unfortunately I'm hoping I get every last seedling out. My biggest concern is that the rust will spread to other plants. I've already had trouble with my Solomon Seal being infected.

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  3. Cut the flower heads before they seed....it's the path of least pulling!

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    1. Norah you're brilliant!! This was exactly the solution I needed. I'm going to chop the tops off this weekend and then I won't be so stressed about getting to these in a hurry.

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  4. I certainly can relate to the hollyhocks taking over. We had them on all four sides of the garden ... now on two sides. We pulled and pulled them out all of last year growing season and tilled them up and pulled some more this year. They're pretty; but invasive if not kept in check.

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    1. I"m not too surprised to hear they took over. They produce a good lot of seed on each head and seem to have good viability. I definitely want to prevent any more plants coming in.

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  5. Salvia, zinnias, nasturtiums, foxgloves... all will give you the old fashioned flowery look you want from the hollyhocks, My Lady in Red salvias got huge last year, filling a space quickly in the season, and you can get really tall zinnias for height. There are climbing nasturtiums that wind over pyramids or just laze around on the ground, all colorful.

    Until you can figure out what you want you might do well with these annual or tender perennial fillers next season along the garage wall. I think the hollyhocks have to go.

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    1. Thank you Laurrie, these are some great ideas. Particularly like the thought of foxgloves with their tall spikes. and I never say no to a zinnia. :)

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  6. I am familiar with that feeling of not being able to pull something up. Sometimes I end up not ever pulling it up, and other times I take a breath and pull. And hollyhocks are one of my favorites. I wish you good luck on the new bed!

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  7. It's sad you are forced to pull your hollyhocks. They are one of my favourite flowers although I have never grown them, mainly because I can't seem to find seed or even plants of the old fashioned single variety that grow enormous and are biennials. The only ones I can find are some horrible hybrid type that only grow a couple feet tall and are annuals?

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  8. I love the color of the Ruby Bells heuchera. I can't really grow heuchera in my garden because they deer eat them like candy. Normally I don't care for red in the garden but this season I feel like every time I see a red flower it makes everything around it pop!

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  9. I like Laurrie's idea too to use annual and tender perennials if you haven't figured out what you want to use to replace the hollyhocks. This was the same tactic I used in my front beds during the drought last year and it gave me time to ponder and study plant options. Looking forward to see what you come up with. Have a great weekend!

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  10. Marguerite I understand why you want and need to pull the hollyhocks from this bed but have you thought of trying them somewhere else, I have lots of primulas, many of our native primula vulgaris common primrose were already growing in the garden, in autumn 2007 I noticed something weird on some by the following spring it was on a lot and it was killing them, it took me sometime to work out it was scale insect, I dug up all infected and put them in the local authority compost bin where they would be burnt, I was worried it would spread to all my primulas but thankfully it didn't and 'touch wood' it has been gone since late 2008, I have not and will not replant primulas in the areas I found it,
    I don't know what causes rust but could lack of air circulation have anything to do with it, with the shed behind them and all the foliage air can't circulate, just a thought, you know what's best for you and your garden, Frances
    ps forgot to say your veggy crop in the previous post sounds great and those strawberries look very yummy,

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  11. I would harvest the seeds and scatter them elsewhere. I love the full lush garden, can't wait to see more blooms!

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  12. I have a hard time pulling hollyhocks out, too, even though many of mine are also suffering from the rust. All of the hollyhocks here came from either my mother or from plants planted by my husband's grandfather, so they're special heirlooms to me as well. I like Janet's idea--spreading the seed elsewhere means not really having to give them up altogether.

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