The biennial Alcea rosea is more often called the Hollyhock, a name that I hope will always conjure up scenes and memories of English cottage gardens, where it is often found. The Hollyhock is native to China and central and south-western Asia and is thought to have been introduced to Britain as early as 1290 by Eleanor of Castile, queen to Edward I.
This showy plant can be seen in several of the flower beds at the Royal Pavilion in an array of different colours. It is used to add colour, texture and vertical depth to the beds. Standing proud and tall it reaches heights of 3-6 feet depending on variety. Its textured foliage is fan-shaped and mid-green in colour. Its beautiful long spires hold a display of funnel shaped, paper-like blooms that resemble those of Hibiscus and bloom from July to September.
The Hollyhock thrives best in a sunny spot in well-drained fertile soil and is beneficial to wildlife such as bees and butterflies which visit to collect its nectar, encouraging pollination across the whole garden.
Visitors to the garden love this plant. On our seed give away days it always does extremely well, with tourists returning home and successfully growing their own Hollyhocks. We have received many postcards and letters from delighted visitors from as far away as Australia!
Volunteer Gardener, Royal Pavilion Gardens