'How very worthy you may say', or even 'How interesting!' if you are of a polite and complaisant turn of mind. Well, unfortunately for me, in the language of flowers hollyhocks seem to be associated with female ambition, and we all know that in ancient lore, female ambition is very definitely Not a Good Thing, and associated with all sorts of dreadful ends for its proponents, so I decided to investigate no further. There are also hints of fertility in the mythology, too, and being a bit past that stage in my life, I just hugged my cardi tighter and tucked my vest in before venturing out into my little plot to take some photos in the grey morning light of an English summer.
|Spot the laundry|
Which photography is not as easy as you might think on a Sunday morning here in Arcadia, when the garden seems to be festooned with sleeping bags hanging out to dry, and yellow snakes of hosepipe out to trip you up, and those pesky blue bins which try to interpolate themselves into every picture (or possibly interpellate, but my academic days are gone, so I will not trudge down that semantic route).
|Not far from a blue bin|
The hollyhocks in my garden arrived with one small plant many moons ago, and have settled into a relatively small palette of colours ranging from pure white to palest pink. They move around at will, I am never sure quite where they will pop up from year to year, and I live in slight trepidation that one day they will forsake me entirely for pastures new.
|Hollyhocks creeping in everywhere|
|Hollyhock in front of sewage treatment system|
In a vaguely similar vein, a small hollyhock has crept in on the edge of the WET system, which treats the black and grey water emanating from the homestead - and no, a WET system doesn't smell; yes, it looks very pretty all year round, and provides a haven for wildlife, and for those of you worried about what you might see, what we euphemistically call the 'solids' are corralled in an underground tank (formerly the cesspool), there in the dark to rot away gently, out of sight and mind, before reaching the first of the five ponds.
|Small hollyhock venturing further|
Moving on from noxious gases and sewage (and I did so want this to be a pretty post, but there's hollyhocks for you, vaunting ambition, and a determination to get everywhere), I also have a memory of hollyhocks past, flowers dark as night, growing up through the cracks in the paving in the greenhouses belonging to the house of my dear-departed grandmamma. Those hollyhocks towered up above me when I was small, leaning over with a predatory and sinister air. I feared their strange touch, and they were part of the trepidation I felt in venturing so far from the familiar and predictable safety of the house and the known and friendly part of the garden into a hot, dry world which smelled of dust, where birds flew frighteningly past my ears and hurled themselves at the enclosing glass. The hollyhocks lined and leaned over a path I had to negotiate anxiously to where it led into the dank darkness of the potting sheds, a rope- and clay-beridden gloom where a terrifying figure of a gardener might emerge at any moment from the shadows and speak incomprehensibly to me. But then came the light from the open door, and the kitchen garden, and the Commander-in-Chief and the scritch-scratch of his hoe, and carrier bag upon carrier bag of peas and beans to be shelled in the sunshine of the back step to the sound of the cricket on Radio 4.
Now those shadows are long gone, I regret that I didn't collect the seeds of those beautiful, eerie, night-dark flowers when I had the chance, but you can see pictures of something like on Marigold Jam's blog. And there are also hollyhocks of a beautiful clear pink that I covet on Millefeuilles (not to mention another beauty of the cardigan kind). I have one more little corner of beauty to share as part of the Bloggers' Garden Tour, my Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose patch (the pinks are not in flower, and the rose seems to have slipped off the edge, but I am getting there).
This week I have received one of the loveliest compliments that I have ever received in my comments from Momof3girls, not to mention medical confirmation of the value of knitting to the psyche here. It has reminded me of the need to count our blessings and seize the day, and the importance of giving out blessings, too.
And in a week when great sadness has touched the lives of some dear people I know, I would urge you to count your blessings and seize the day, too. So as I go to take my own day into my hands, I hope you are enriched by yours ...