The hollyhocks in the east bed are in fresh, tall bloom. This bed's still dominated by the progeny of the three original Alcea rosea 'Nigra' plants with which this bed was started three summers ago, even after significant (or so I thought), deliberate culling at the end of last year. But the Alcea ficifolia (fig, or Antwerp, hollyhock) is stepping up with lovely contrast and balance in a variety of hues:
It's only a matter of not very much more time before the (pfft pfft pfft) Japanese beetles (which descended last week upon the native roses in the bed on the other side of the house) arrive to wreak their destruction, but for now this site is peaceful and pristine.
Deep in the high-rise hollyhock jungle, the miniature hollyhock Sidalcea malviflora 'Party Girl' blooms almost undetected:
But the hollyhock I'm waiting for is right around the corner, almost but not quite in bloom yet. It's the perennial hollyhock Alcea rugosa. I sowed a packet of it in situ last spring, and two plants, sited perfectly behind Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', have shot up tall with deeply lobed, fat-fingered foliage and the promise of many yellow blooms.