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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.

 

 

 

Roses in the Desert (with an Iris)

 

 

When we moved to the Desert Southwest, I was amazed to see how well roses thrive here, pretty much pest free.  Most of the roses I have dealt with were when my husband and I lived on the east coast. There the roses were constantly having to be sprayed to try to ward off all sorts of pests and diseases:  black spot, powdery mildew, hordes of aphids, armies of Japanese beetles, etc. etc.. Since I try to go organic whenever possible, I did grow roses, but they were the very hardy “nearly wilds” and rugosas.  I did occasionally have to spray them but always with an earth friendly solution.  So it has been a real pleasure to see all the roses grown here.  I, myself, have three in large pots that are blooming up a storm right now.

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