An hour spent in the garden….

19 Jun

On my author bio, for my book The Year of the Cicadas, I have stated that I am an avid gardener, and I am.  I love gardening.  I have an engraved rock in my garden that says “An hour spent in the garden puts life’s problems into perspective”. It does, it really does.  Few things make me happier than spending time in my garden. The only thing better is spending time in my garden with my family a perfect “ten” for me. 

I would like to share a little garden wisdom with you.  It is about Alcea Rosea otherwise known as Hollyhocks.  I love hollyhocks.  I love all things old, and a Hollyhock brings back memories from my childhood of Hollyhocks growing next to the mailbox.  I remember them scattered among the fence lines on the cracked and broken sidewalks. My sisters and I would pick them and pretend that they were beautiful doll dresses, with a little imagination they could be so many different things…..

hollyhock2 hollyhock7 hollyhock4 hollyhock3 hollyhock5hollyhock

I am a perennial gardener and have been for almost thirty years, so I know a thing or two about perennials.  I have been around so long, I remember when perennials starting becoming popular and a bitter dispute broke out between two neighbors. One claimed that perennials were weeds, while the other said they were not.  Perennials had been officially classified as weeds and the beautiful garden lost the court battle and had to be plowed under, such a shame.  How times change.  It is always from the perspective that one is looking from.

My gardens have gotten to be quite extensive, but so have life’s problems for me.  Whenever I get sad, frustrated, or just need to talk to God, I head to the garden for some perspective.  I never see the problem quite the same by the time I head back into the house.  Ooooh the lessons I have learned from my garden.

This is what I have discovered about Hollyhocks, remember those broken rocks along the sidewalk? Well, Hollyhocks love to grow under rocks.  I don’t know if they like the warmth or if it offers protection, but your Hollyhock roots will do better if you place a rock next to them.  We all like a little protection during the cold.

They do not like to be crowded.  When the perennials start to crowd too close around them, preventing air circulation, they become sickly and develop a “rust” fungus.  I also get a little sickly when I am over crowded and can’t get fresh air.  To fight the fungus you can use an organic mixture of corn meal and powdered milk, but it only works so-so.  If you really want to beat back the fungus use a systemic fungicide on them, preferably early in the spring and then as necessary. A little mixture of homeopathy and medication is always a good thing.

It is also important to pick off the infected leaves as the fungus will spread with the rain or watering to other Hollyhocks.  You must be careful in this endeavor.  If you take too many leaves off the plant cannot photosynthesize and will die.  It is a careful dance of removing leaves and leaving leaves. Do not put these infected leaves into your compost pile, throw them away! They are contagious to baby Hollyhocks.  It is always best to catch these things early and take care of them quickly.


Hollyhocks are not official perennials, they are actually biennials they reseed so readily they will fool you.  There are many stands of Hollyhocks that have been around for many years, and if protected they can survive for a long, long time.  The roots on Hollyhocks go deep.  You could dig an old one out, and be surprised when it continues to grow back.  In life, as with Hollyhocks old habits, like old roots will pop back up when you least expect them.

Hollyhocks can go along for years and give you no problems at all, and then someone shares a new plant with you and unknown to everyone it has a virus, and the virus spreads to all of the other Hollyhocks.  Nothing is more beautiful than a seven foot tall Hollyhock standing firm in the wind, covered with beautiful blooms that look like doll dresses, except a Hollyhock standing seven foot tall with beautiful blooms that look like doll dresses, and you know that you have cared for it, nurtured it, loved it and helped it to reproduce so that the species will continue.

My garden has taught me so much about life, and an hour spent in the garden does put life’s problems into perspective. Happy Gardening.



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Without you, the readers of  The Year of the Cicadas, this story would be in a shoebox in the top of my closet waiting for my grandchildren to discover it after my passing. Thank you for letting me see it find the light while I am still here.  You rock.


2 Responses to “An hour spent in the garden….”

  1. theyearofthecicadas March 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Always happy to meet a fellow gardener.


  1. A new growing season begins! | small house/BIG GARDEN - March 6, 2014

    […] An hour spent in the garden…. […]

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