Many years ago when we took the kids to see the mission in San Juan Capistrano (the one where the swallows return every year) I met and fell in love with hollyhocks -kind of like Frank Lloyd Wright devotee, heiress Aline Barnsdall -only without the oil money, but I digress...
The tall cottage-style flowers with sturdy stems and happy, colorful petals dotted the pathways like wildflowers and I immediately went home and planted my own.
Along with sunflowers, foxglove, and delphinium (Wow, I am realizing a clear penchant for tall flowers!) they have been in and out of our garden for years.
This year, I am craving them. About a week ago, I went to the seed section at one of the big box home improvement stores and -nada, nothing. So this morning, while many of my friends and relatives are shoveling their way through an epic storm of legendary proportions - I began browsing heirloom flower seeds from online companies.
For my snowed in friends, I humbly suggest from my sunny room in Southern California -that the process of browsing and planning for spring and summer (yes, it really is coming) is like a working daydream -completely absorbing and a whole lot of fun for very little money. Spring fever as the cure for cabin fever?
Rareseeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds was the catalog I spent the most time looking at because it was one of the first ones I found, and they had a large variety of hollyhocks -of which I ordered several. I also ordered several other cottage-garden flowers and a few vegetables. I'll show you all the packets when they come in! (I might have gone a teensy bit crazy...)
For more online browsing/dreaming check out the Seed Savers Exchange, the Hudson Valley Seed Library (I ordered the Skyscraper Sunflower: "Nearly a tree in one short season!" although not sure where to plant it yet...), and Victory Seed Company. If you have a favorite heirloom seed supplier I would love to know! Please share the name in the comments below!
The photo above is the Indian Spring Hollyhock I ordered from Rareseeds...
Fig-Leafed Hollyhock at Rareseeds
Double Carnival Rosy Red Hollyhock at Rareseeds
Photography and illustration from the Rareseeds Website.