Most seed catalogs offered us hollyhocks with the double-flowered, powder puff, clown button blossoms. You can tell where I am going with this. I assumed these were the 'new and improved' varieties that other gardeners craved. I wanted the simple hollyhocks of yesteryear.
I settled on Malva in the catalog. After starting seeds, watching them grow and bloom, I included them in a Garden Blogger's Bloom Day post [15.8.2010]. There I lamented the small open petal blooms and held out hope that the following year would bring different results.
It's the following year, and they're back. Canes are not straight and tall, but are growing in a mangled twisted forsythia-like mess. (The photo was taken before they went wild.) The canes and flowers are numerous - not the tall orderly soldiers expected, but haphazard disheveled conscripts. It turns out I don't have hollyhocks - I have mallow or French hollyhocks - Malva sylvestris. Oops.
Stalks are 5 feet tall (1.5 m) if upright, but after starting out upright, most have become arched, bowed, and tortuous as they grew. Aphids love them. Leaf miners lover them. Mites love them. I do not. I am going to cut them down and see if they grow into a bush.
Give me the tall single flowered heirlooms for next year.
For The Record:
Heavy clay soil
Hot south-facing full sun along the house
Mites, leaf miners, and aphids
Blooming:hydrangea, hosta, nicotiana, larkspur, rose, salvia, coneflower, cleome, geranium, daylily