Hollyhocks are one of my favourite plants. Tall, often solitary, and sturdy, they are the individuals, along with sunflowers, of the flower world.
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Hollyhocks are one of my favourite plants. Tall ― from 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3.1 metres), with the tallest in the Guinness Book of Records listed at 24 feet 3 inches (7.39 metres) ― often solitary, and sturdy, they are the individuals, along with sunflowers, of the flower world.
There are bunches of daffodils, bushes of roses, clumps of violets, but a hollyhock is a hollyhock.
I like the coarseness of their leaves and stalks. There is nothing dainty about the hollyhock. Even the flowers, though often brightly and delicately coloured, look like dry, folded paper.
The hollyhock has a religious air. The first known version of the word hollyhock in English (in 1265 or so) was holihoc, from holi (holy) and hokke (or hocc, a plant of the mallow species). The hollyhock was also known as Sancti Cuthberti Cole (St. Cuthbert’s Cole). Cole comes from the Latin word caulis, meaning stem or cabbage.
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The hollyhock symbolizes, for those who study the language of flowers, ambition, fertility, and fruitfulness.
Before indoor plumbing was common, hollyhocks were often planted near the outhouse. Well-bred people needed only to say they wished to admire the hollyhocks to be directed to the outdoor toilet.