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marching for peace and beauty (a giveaway)

April 30, 2012

It’s no secret that my gardening style is passionately relaxed. I start with the idea of planting seeds in rows, and then a lettuce colony erupts in the tomato bed, potatoes sprout from the compost I’ve patted onto the grape vine, and volunteer hollyhocks clog the garden walkways like protesters marching for peace and beauty.

And that is how I end up with a garden like this:

There’s a local county extension agent who, I’ve heard, shows a slide of my garden in his gardening class slideshow, remarking that although mine is a very productive garden, its disorganization makes him want to back away very fast. I dig diversity, the way a honeybee is lured in by the tall, flag-waving hollyhocks and stays to wriggle into the yellow skirt of every squash flower below.

Last fall, I gathered up the seeds of yellow, apricot, cream, magenta, white, pink, crimson and purple hollyhocks. This spring, I’d like to send some seeds to you. To all of you! This is the kind of giveaway where everyone wins. All you have to do is leave a comment (be sure to include your e-mail in the comment form – doesn’t have to be in the comment itself) and I’ll contact you to get your address so I can send you some seeds. Locals, for you, I am giving away hollyhock plants!

Ten reasons to grow hollyhocks:

1) Hollyhocks are in the Malvaceae family (aka: mallow family), along with okra, hibiscus and marshmallow (yes, there is a marshmallow plant). Hollyhocks are mucilaginous like okra; the roots and dried leaves are good in a cold tea for sore throats.

2) All parts of the plant are edible. I like adding the stunning flowers to salads, it’s like dropping precious jewels into your dinner.

3) Hollyhocks cross pollinate, creating wild and surprising offspring. One year we had a hollyhock bloom so darkly purple it was almost black, and then was never seen again. Your plants will be my plant’s kin!

4) Cultivate beauty.

5) Hollyhocks are biennials, meaning they have a 2-year life cycle. In the first year they put out a crown of leaves, in the next they send up a flower stalk, set seed and die. To sow a hollyhock seed is to sow patience and hope.

6) Hollyhocks are easy. They’re the bodhisattvas of the garden. Blistering heat? No prob. Icy nights? Oh, fine. No rain for weeks? Okey doke! Monsoonal rains? Bring it.

7) Hollyhocks attract honeybees.

8) Help me liberate a jar.

9) Once they’re established, you’ll never have to plant them again, and they’re easy to pluck if you start feeling like that county extension agent in my yard.

10) Hollyhocks bloom from July through October.

My baby! (Rose at 2)

And bonus: I’ll include some morning glory seeds too, just because they’re fabulous.

morning glories, assorted colors.

Giveaway closes Friday, May 4th

ps: Raw energy nugget recipe coming! I just have to figure out the whole food-processor thing. I can hear Dan’s voice in my head, um, how about you just *buy* one. He knows I’m more inclined to try and manifest a free/used one while mortar and pestling ten tons of nuts by hand.

pps: I’m hearing that it’s still hard for some of you to comment on this site. Darn. My friend MB offers this advice: I think it is just going to happen to any of us out here who have ever logged into, and used the same email address between that and another blog. so… in case this helps anyone else, it is possible to change their settings within the dashboard so that it links to their real blog. you can also change the email address in those personal settings, if you want to add yet another email address to your life (it will detect it if you try to use any emails you have ever used before Does that help?

Happy Monday,


76 Comments leave one →
  1. teacherwhomoms permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:26 am

    Would these grow in a new England city? Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. Sarah permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:42 am

    Two years ago we pulled all the shrubs in front of our house to make room to paint and I left it empty while I (forgot about it) decided what to plant in it’s place. That summer whatever the wind had blown into that loose dirt grew and I was left with a surprise garden of flowers, weeds and plants. I love the diversity and disorder! And I’d love to add intentional hollyhocks to my surprise flower beds!

  3. Kara permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:43 am

    Yeah! You will lure me yet again away from work overload and back into the garden. You are inspiring. Do they need a lot of sun? I love that we’d have kindred flowers…

  4. Kathy Smith permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:59 am

    Hollyhocks remind me of my Mother and England. Ed and I have just returned from a 70th birthday trip to England. I am not much of a gardener but would love to try to raise flowers that are kindred to your wonderful family, your blog always inspires and amuses me. Thanks you for sharing!

  5. Tammy permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:00 am

    Hollyhocks are so old timey and lovely. I feel like I’m instantly in Grandma’s garden when my hollyhocks bloom. I don’t think I’ve ever actually had hollyhocks that weren’t someone else’s first, and that makes them more precious. I love your garden style! Obviously, your garden is happy and doesn’t mind it’s style, either! I’m just kicking up my heals when things are growing and producing, no matter the layout!
    Please, please! I will be thrilled to sow your seed in my Vermont gardens this spring! Wing and a Prayer Farm will be feeling the love from 6512 and growing for the next two years or more if all goes well! Thank you for such a delightful giveaway and beautiful post!
    Happy Day!

  6. Emily permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:06 am

    I had no idea they were edible!

  7. April 30, 2012 7:14 am

    Me! Me! Please! I would love some seeds! I was just thinking about what flowers I need to add to my garden to make it bigger and bolder!! Hollyhocks are it!! Thank you so much!!

    • Jan permalink
      April 30, 2012 7:34 am

      My mother always grew Hollyhocks but I don’t remember that she ever knew we could eat them and neither did I. They grew very well in Down East Maine, though, so they probably would any where. And I LOVE your garden!


  8. Nasha permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:55 am

    I’m in! Steve and I prefer the chaos of a garden—-it is the linear rows that create disease (love how this relates to the human body as well:) Your photos this morning have inspired me to put my hands in the dirt! Love to you and the family! xo

  9. Michele permalink
    April 30, 2012 7:59 am

    I would love some seeds! Our new home came with zero landscaping so I have a fresh start. Thank you, thank you thank you!!

  10. Meghan Smith permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:06 am

    me too! I would grow them here in Boston!

  11. Cinda permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:13 am

    I love the old fashioned single bloom variety. For some reason they only offer the double blossom variety in my neck of the woods. They are ok, but remind me of colorful wads of kleenex!

    I used to make hollyhock dolls with my girls. all you need is an unopened bud (for the head), an opened blossom( for the skirt), 2 mini unopened buds (for the hands) and some toothpicks.

    I would love to sow some of your seeds in my garden. Thank you!

    Your garden is beautiful!


  12. Emmanuelle permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:50 am

    Oh, I love these pictures of your exuberant garden ! The one with Dan tanning a hide in front a soft blue wall, looking like a happy Van Gogh/Thoreau, is simply beautiful. And Rose on your knees with this extra-generous smile of yours, matching the flowers :o)

    Hollyhocks grow in every garden of the French island were I used to go in the summer with my parents (and still do sometimes), so they are dear to my heart, and it would be wonderful to actually have some that come from your garden ! I wonder if I can plant hollyhocks on my balcony ? And would it be a problem for you to send some seeds to Montréal, in Canada ?

    Thank you for this very springy idea :o)

    • Emmanuelle permalink
      April 30, 2012 9:24 am

      Um, I realise that if they are biennals they would probably not work on a balcony, although I do keep some of my pots inside during the winter and put them out again in May. But I have a very dear friend whose garden I tend to sometimes (I used to live there happily)… it would be truly special for me to see your own hollyhocks bloom in this particular piece of earth :o)

  13. April 30, 2012 8:51 am

    Surely the agent knows a thing or two about companion gardening…

    I love the wild beauty of your garden, and would love to add some of your hollyhocks and morning glory to mine.

  14. April 30, 2012 8:53 am

    I love hollyhocks and I love that picture of you and Rose. It’s crazy how fast they grow. Your garden is beautiful and seems to be very productive…so some chaos must be good right?! Are Hollyhocks considered weeds or are they native plants of somewhere? Hmm, I’m going to find out. We have such issues here with weeds and since we live on Nature Conservancy property I should probably find that out. Hope you had a lovely weekend.


  15. April 30, 2012 9:03 am

    I think your garden looks amazing and the ‘disorganization’ makes me want to jump around inside it!

  16. April 30, 2012 9:04 am

    ps- by ‘jumping’ i was not meaning to smash anything down! he-he. Just that it looks like a fun place to feel free! ;)

  17. April 30, 2012 9:18 am

    i’ll be over in a minute.:)

  18. April 30, 2012 9:24 am

    Having flowers that are kin to yours is the best reason on the list!

  19. ike permalink
    April 30, 2012 9:25 am

    Love your garden when it is bursting out so full of life-vegetables, flowers,insects, kids.
    I would also love some hollyhock seeds.

  20. April 30, 2012 9:43 am

    I would LOVE hollyhock seeds! have been wanting to add them to our new landscape, and feel thrilled at the synchronicity! kate

  21. Ann permalink
    April 30, 2012 9:48 am

    Your garden is beautiful! I did not know this lovely flower was so useful.
    Thank you for the chance to win.

  22. Sara permalink
    April 30, 2012 9:53 am

    I love the pictures of your garden! Very inspiring! I would love to get some hollyhock seeds! Love plants that you can use and look beautiful!

  23. Lisa permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:03 am

    This is so fantastic! We’re vegetable farmers, and although we do have a fair number of wildflowers growing at the edges of our fields, I feel we’re just starting to catch our breath a bit, to think about more ways to pretty up the place and especially to encourage more fantastic pollinators. Also I think it will be fun to show our little guy (2 1/2) how much their flowers look like our okra flowers!

  24. teresa permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:13 am

    yes please to some hollyhock seeds! i will plant them right next to the calendula and sunflower seeds that i got from latisha @herbmama! i am starting a bit of an amazing goddess blog section in my garden it seems… love that.
    thanks rachel!

  25. coleen permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:16 am

    I would love some hollyhock seeds, they remind me of my grandfather! :) I think your garden in wonderful just the way it is!
    accrisanti at yahoo dot com
    Thanks in advance for the seeds.

  26. Audrey Crane permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:26 am

    We would love some! Still in a rental garden, but I will save them in seed balls (which I fortuitously learned about last week and totally made me think of you) until we find our home garden… 908 Broadway, 94501!


  27. ~Natalie permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:39 am

    I’d be proud to have a garden as productively “disorganized” as yours!!!

  28. April 30, 2012 10:57 am

    Yes please, I was actually envying the lushness & fullness of your garden last night. It’s something that I crave since we’re in dry juniper sage mesas. One of my goals for gardening this year is to get more flowers in, so this will be perfect. I have a bajillion calendula seeds in case you need any of those…

  29. April 30, 2012 11:22 am

    Oh, yes, please! I’ve wanted hollyhocks for so long, but I’m committed to having a donation-based perennial bed (I.e. I’m too lazy to go to the garden center and buy anything). AndreaElani at yahoo dot calm. Just kidding. Dot com.

  30. April 30, 2012 11:53 am

    Oh, me me me. I love hollyhocks (have had them bloom the first year – in fact grew them from seed last year and they bloomed – but then didn’t come back this year). I’ve got some in pots now, but I’m not sure they are going to germinate. I plan the heck out of my garden, but then purposefully plant things like feverfew, hollyhock, dill, parsley, thyme, chives, lavender, cosmos and calendula around, which all reseed. Then, the next year, when I find a volunteer in not a totally inappropriate place, I let it be. I love inviting an element of randomness to the garden. People’s gardens that are neat as a pin, well, they kind of scare me. Life is not neat as a pin. Ha.

  31. Dawn permalink
    April 30, 2012 1:24 pm

    Love your blog, it’s probably my favorite. Never grown hollyhocks before but would love to give it a whirl.

  32. April 30, 2012 1:56 pm

    You are truly generous and abundant–why not manifest a food processor? We’d looove some seeds! Doing some clean up and replanting of our little front and back yards and I’d love to toss some hollyhock seeds in there . . . love the photo of you and Rose when she was 2 and can’t believe my girl turns 2 next month. I’m super ambivalent about having her “no more nursey” party coincide with her birthday. Maybe we’ll just nurse along haphazardly as long as we both want. Such a sweet age!

  33. April 30, 2012 2:11 pm

    I wish you’d give us the class (over many small blog posts, of course) that you’d give that extension class looking at the slide of your garden. I would be in bliss with a dose of your garden skills. And someday a book. Have a nice day!

  34. April 30, 2012 2:13 pm

    I definitely want some Hollyhock seeds! I love them, and grow them, but we don’t have too many (can you ever have too many?). My email address is , we live in Aztec, NM, if that helps? Thanks!!! Love your blog and I love your garden!!!

  35. permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:32 pm

    I would love some hollyhock seeds–I didn’t know they were edible plants! I’ve tried to grow them before but without much luck…I live on a former (50 yrs ago) wetland though…maybe that’s the trouble? But I’d love to try again. Thank you! And while I’m here–thank you for your humor, excellent writing, and ideas. I appreciate having found your blog.

  36. April 30, 2012 2:46 pm

    Count us in Rachel!!! Should I send a self addressed envelope to you? Would that help with postage? I’d be glad too!!!! Love all your gardening advice!! xo~amy

  37. Amy Mayfield permalink
    April 30, 2012 2:57 pm

    I would love to plant some here in Oregon! Thank you! I think your garden is amazing.

  38. Jenny Miller permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:09 pm

    Thanks so much, Rachel. Love the hollyhocks! My hubby said when he was little they would catch bees in the flowers by closing the petals. Just don’t open it near your face! If you’re looking for seeds let know and I’ll send you some in return :)

  39. Rachel W. permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:10 pm

    I would also really enjoy your hollyhock seeds and would happily send you a self addressed stamped envelope. Can I interest you in some forget-me-not and/or calendula seeds? They are both racing to see who can take over my yard first. Thank you so much for your wonderful site. I enjoy it very much. At some point would you talk about how it has been with kids and a beehive safety wise? Thank you!

  40. Jenny Miller permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:11 pm

    I forgot to mention we’re in North Carolina, but hubby is from Colorado (Colorado Springs/Canon City area). We’ll be headed out there again next summer!

  41. Melissa H permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:19 pm

    I’d love some seeds as well! I also love how lush and alive your garden is! Im slowly letting my garden take over my backyard. It’s so fun! I have some calendula going to seed right now if you’d like some, let me know!

  42. rose permalink
    April 30, 2012 3:38 pm

    yes please to seeds! thank you so so much!

  43. caromalinia permalink
    April 30, 2012 5:23 pm

    Oooh! Include me! Yes to hollyhocks!

  44. April 30, 2012 5:56 pm

    I love your garden pictures. I love your blog! I’d love some hollyhock seeds. Thank you.

  45. April 30, 2012 6:37 pm

    Hm. Will you ship internationally? I’ve never seen them growing here on the cold side of this town – but lots on the warm side. I always liked the story “The sound of hollyhocks”, as well as the homey dressed-up-ness of hollyhocks. They’re like wearing a swirly frock to hang the laundry.

  46. April 30, 2012 6:49 pm

    I would love some hollyhock seeds. Can I grow them in a pot on the back patio?
    I grew up in Colorado Springs and we had awesome hollyhocks in the back yard. I would love to recapture a bit of my growing up years.

  47. Anonymous permalink
    April 30, 2012 6:50 pm

    Rachel ,I can only HOPE to one day have a garden as wild and wonderful as yours, but the hollyhocks will be a great start! Thanks so much! Just think, you will be like Ms. Rumphius (the Lupine Lady) of Durango! Your flowers will be all throughout our community!

  48. Chris permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:38 pm

    I love that pic of you and Rosie with her clutching a carrot. There are hollyhocks growing right by the front porch of the Chambers farm in North Carolina that originated in Durango-makes me happy and homesick at the same time thinking about it. I love your riotous garden in all its glory and don’t let any county extension agent tell you different.

  49. Sandy permalink
    April 30, 2012 8:39 pm

    Rachel–I would love to have a hollyhock plant–I have a spot in my perennial garden that would be perfect (I too did not know they were edible)! It’s fun to read your blog and see pictures from our little town on the internet. Thanks.

  50. April 30, 2012 9:59 pm

    I’m thrilled at the idea of having flowers that are cousins of your flowers. Thank you for your amazing generosity.

  51. Anonymous permalink
    April 30, 2012 10:16 pm

    Wow…I just had an epiphany today of what I need out front lining my driveway and it was….hollyhocks!!

  52. April 30, 2012 10:35 pm

    Would love some!! woot woot. I saw a hollyhock once that just WAS my Grandma Doris. It was a year after she died, and ever since, I see hollyhocks, particularly hot pink ones, and I say hello to her.

  53. April 30, 2012 10:45 pm

    ever since i saw hollyhocks in CO last summer, and then again here, I have been swooning with hollyhock-itis. seriously, just today i was musing over what flowers to plant next and thought, “but i really just want some…”. so if you’re givin ’em away, i would be honored to host them.

    and big yes please too, to the raw nugget recipe!

    • April 30, 2012 10:47 pm

      p.s. i am loving the photos in this post, esp. the bonanza jar, glowey you and rosebud and the flowery hide tanner.

  54. Christine D. permalink
    May 1, 2012 6:26 am

    count me in on some seeds!! and I love gardens that aren’t meticulous!!! Much more interesting!!

  55. May 1, 2012 6:56 am

    I LOVE hollyhocks.
    Our gardening styles are similar. One of my best gardens had volunteer butternut squash that grew all around my tomatoes. It was a banner year.

  56. Anonymous permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:40 am

    I’d love to grow some hollyhocks.

  57. Rachel permalink
    May 1, 2012 10:03 am

    I don’t know if you’ll have any seeds left after all these comments, but we’d love to grow some hollyhocks too! (p.s. your garden is a wonderful beautiful jumble of life! I wish mine looked like that!)

  58. Jen M permalink
    May 2, 2012 7:51 am

    I’d love some too, if you have any left. My kids (5 and 2) are into planting things this year and have been so excited to watch our Irises “boom” this year. They were transplants from a neighbors yard last year (the Irises – not the kids) and we weren’t sure they would bloom this year. Love your garden and visiting you through this lovely blog.

  59. Jennifer permalink
    May 2, 2012 8:51 am

    Oh, yes please! I love plants who grow wherever THEY want to grow: hollyhocks, morning glories, grape hyacinths. No one is the boss of those ladies. Thank you thank you thank you.

  60. May 2, 2012 11:11 am

    Wow, amazing, if you’re willing to send a few up to Canada, count me in! cait(dot)hynesdobson(at)gmail(dot)com

    We’ve had hollyhocks here for years but only ever the same shade of pink; a bit of colour added to the mix would be nice!!

  61. May 2, 2012 11:31 pm

    After a week of the Sore Throat From Hell, NOW I find out hollyhock roots in cold tea would’ve helped. Oy. I knew I should’ve visited your site earlier!

  62. Jamie permalink
    May 2, 2012 11:32 pm

    If you still have some seed left, I’m definitely interested. A bit of Durango should be grown everywhere…

  63. gavin tickner permalink
    May 3, 2012 2:25 am

    hi, your garden look fantastic. so controlled yet overgrown, exactly the sort of garden i’d love myself.. if you have any seeds left i,d happily accept any you have to offer.. many thanks for reading….

  64. May 3, 2012 11:04 am

    i *think* we may already have hollyhock. any id tips?

    love your wild garden. need any calendula seeds? : )

  65. May 3, 2012 12:17 pm

    I’d love to tuck some hollyhocks into my northern Michigan garden. We had them in the backyard when I was growing up and I can’t remember seeing them since – definitely time to start some here now that I’m putting down roots of my own! Thanks for spreading them far and wide, and thanks for the inspiring words you send out into the world to sprout and grow in so many places – I always appreciate the glimpse into your world and your perspective on life. Hmmm, now I’m wondering if any of the seeds I’ve saved would be useful to you in Durango!

  66. May 3, 2012 6:34 pm

    I would love some hollyhocks! thanks for the offer!

  67. May 3, 2012 6:44 pm

    Am I too late?!

  68. luci permalink
    May 4, 2012 5:15 pm

    hollyhock kin? …word.


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