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Heavenly Hollyhocks in the Desert Southwest

 

 

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) have always been a flower dear to my heart.  Can't explain why besides they have such a beautifully majestic look to them (at least to me) as they sway in the wind.  According to information I've read, they are biennials, taking two years to bloom (although you can't always believe what's written since these seeded last summer and are blooming now).  Hollyhocks are originally from Asia, grown in ancient China by wealthy people.  They spread to the Middle East through trade routes and then were carried to western Europe by returning Crusaders from the Holy Land.  The Latin name of the hollyhock plant, Alcea, is derived from altho the Greek word for healerIn Greek Mythology, Althea is a beautiful goddess of healing and compassion, family, marriage and protection.  The flowers were used as a diuretic, a laxative, an emollient and in anti-inflammatory treatments. Rosea is Latin for for rose, rosy or pink.  The common name, hollyhock, is a combination of two words — holy and hock. Holy refers to the healing powers of the plant and that it was brought to Europe from the Holy Land.  Hock is an Old English word which means mallow.  Hollyhocks made their way to the United States in colonial times in seed packets carried by immigrants.  They symbolize the circle of life and abundance and were traditionally planted near the front door to welcome prosperity.

 

 

 

Flower Gardening in the Desert

 

 

My husband and I have been living in our cosy little house in the Desert Southwest for 7 ½ years now, 5 years as renters and 2 ½  years as owners. As I always say, “The house is OK, but it’s the yard I love.” At the time we moved, we had three large dogs so needed a larger backyard, unlike most of the postage stamp size yards that seem so prevalent now.  We have only one large dog now and the backyard is his kingdom.

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