Hollyhocks, saved from seed collected while doing a late summer relief stint at Chrome Island Lightstation several years ago, now add their glorious shapes and colours to our lives on Lennard Island. I started them from tiny seeds, separated into seven different colours first, in greenhouse flats. Excellent 100% germination! Then I transplanted them into my sawed-down cardboard milk cartons, the two litre size, and let them grow and establish even better root systems. Finally, I cut out the bottom of each milk carton, being careful not to sever any roots, and planted them with the protective anti-slug waxed shell of milk carton, into a flower border which had been so overcrowded with creeping buttercup, renegade comfrey and thuggish Shasta daisies that I physically winced everytime I walked by it. Which was often as it is right outside our house.
But thanks to the hard work of both Jeff and myself with sustained weeding and then mulching with lawn grass clippings over the last two years, I was able to plan the sites for each hollyhock as well as thin out incredibly crowded clumps of daffodil and agapanthus africanus (Lily of the Nile) bulbs and to replant the lovely pale orange dahlias which were here when we arrived (and doing battle with the buttercup, which never sleeps....) Now, at last it is a flower border which lifts my spirits whenever I look at it, with glorious early spring bulbs, dozens and dozens of them, followed by the hollyhocks-white, pale pink, medium pink with a burgundy centre, dark pink, lime green with a pale red centre, pure, clear red and deep burgundy, with one lovely contained clump of Shasta daisies. The cheerful white and yellow-centred daisies will carry on blooming as the hollyhocks die back and the "sunrise" dahlias (my description as the original name is unknown) come into their long-lived summer and fall showing.
I still get in there with my dandelion digger and my bare fingers to pull out baby buttercup seedlings and teeny comfrey leaves but now it's simply low-maintenance beauty.