July is the month of the hollyhock. The first flush of roses might be over but these towers of flowers soon make us forget that. They really are the quintessential cottage flower, shooting up behind brick walls and standing sentry by sash windows and wooden doors.
Some gardens have whole forests of them and our own front garden has a fine display of baby pink and pale yellow ones. One has a stem that is an astonishing two inches thick. It seems more like a tree than a flower.
I love gazing up into the floral trumpets of the hollyhock outside our dining room window, watching the bees which emerge covered in pollen – every tiny hair of their bodies seems coated with it.
Driving back from the coast the other night, we saw this perfect cottage in a little village in the Stour Valley. It looked like something out of a Miss Read novel.
Pink hollyhocks against pink paintwork – now that’s my idea of heaven!