A circle of hollyhocks at Hell’s Backbone Grill, UT
Visit a backroads hollyhock garden for lunch, learn how to grow hollyhocks and even make old-fashioned hollyhock dolls. See the fun of photographing these cottage flowers of old.
Off Highway 12, deep in the state of Utah, is a restaurant grill whose owners grow the hollyhocks and all the organic vegetables and herbs they use, in the garden within the circle. It’s a delightful place to stop and ‘smell the hollyhocks’ and even stay for lunch!
Enjoying and photographing hollyhocks
Hollyhocks have been part of Cottage gardens for hundreds of years. It’s one of the most old-fashioned flowers ever and we remember them from our Mother’s and Grandma’s gardens. We played with them, making dolls with the ruffly skirts from the crepe papery petals.
There’s a decidedly peaceful feeling to the grill and garden. Serenity is felt here and as I walk around I am overcome with a calm and well-being. I enjoyed a half hour of picture taking before we had to be on our way.
The garden in April
On another trip, we stopped at the grill, in April for lunch and found a truly unique and delightful menu. Of course, I took time for another walkaround the burgeoning garden with its cheerfully waving peace flags.
Growing gorgeous hollyhocks
If you sow a batch of hollyhocks their progeny will keep coming up year after year to open their floral trumpets of crimson, yellow, salmon pink and white during July and August.
Seeds can be sown in early spring or summer and the plants grown on to flower the next summer. Once you get them started, they will reseed year after year. If you grow a group of smaller plants in front of them – penstemons, say – the legs of the hollyhocks will be covered in foliage and blooms.
What are Biennials?
A biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological life cycle. Biennials grow their greenery the first year and flower in their second, and once you get them going, hollyhocks readily self-seed and thus may be treated as perennials. Some varieties may only grow well in zones 3 through 9, but most hollyhocks grow in zones 2 through 10, making them available for most gardens!
Alcea rosea is the plant’s Latin name, but you will find it listed simply as hollyhock in seed racks. The single kind are the ones we love – and the ones that are valuable to bees and butterflies, but the ruffly doubles are wonderful, too..
It matters not which kind you grow. They will all add their romantic, cottagey air to your garden and you will come to love your hollyhocks as much as we do.”
Hollyhocks can be semi-evergreen in mild climates, but can be cut back when the seed pods outnumber the blooms on the stalks. Also cut any tatty leaves to encourage fresh new foliage. Cut hollyhocks down by half if you’d like to control their size.
Be aware, though, that hollyhocks can be victims to a disease called rust. It looks exactly as you would expect – rusty dots on the underside of the leaves that discolor the surface of the leaves. To prevent rust, plant where there is excellent drainage and give them very regular water.
More of the August Hollyhock and veggie garden
How to make your own Hollyhock Dolls
Did you ever make these flower fairy dolls as a child? Time to pass on this idea!
- Select fully opened hollyhock blossoms and turn it upside down to form the skirt.
- Pinch out the pistil and stamens as needed.
- Thread a toothpick through the flower with the blunt edge at the bottom.
- Choose another blossoms or flower bud for the doll’s head.
If you go:
About the Hell’s Backbone Grill Restaurant and Farm:
“Located in the small town of Boulder, Utah, and minutes away from Escalante National Monument, our co-owners Blake and Jen operate Hell’s Backbone Grill following Buddhist principles with a commitment to sustainability, environmental ethics, and social and community responsibility. We serve organic, locally produced, regionally and seasonally appropriate cuisine, growing many of our own vegetables and fruits organically in the restaurant’s two gardens and on our six-acre farm. We feature dishes made with fruit from Boulder’s heirloom orchards and rely largely on local ranchers for the grass-fed and -finished meat we serve.”