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Free Hollyhock Seeds, just for you

Free hollyhock seeds — they come with a letter and a story. Here’s how the story goes.

Hollyhocks: Photo credit: Knottyboy (at Flickr)

Once upon a time there was an avid gardener who was starting her garden from scratch. She had always dreamed of growing a wall of single heritage hollyhocks. In her new garden she had the perfect sunny spot against her house. To her dismay the only seeds she was able to locate were double hollyhocks, which did not please her one bit. She wrote to her favourite gardening magazine asking if readers might know where she could find the old fashioned single hollyhocks. Nearly a hundred gardeners across Canada sent the gardener more hollyhock seed than she could ever plant even if she had every inch within a quarter section planted with them.

She planted some of the seeds and enjoyed them for years. She shared some of the seeds over the years. Two moves later, she continued to hang on to the hundreds of letters that had arrived each one also bearing a selection of healthy dry seed.

Now the gardener is planting more of these perky, old fashioned hollyhocks in her new garden. The problem is, she has a large box full of seed from all the generous gardeners who once mailed her their hollyhock seed. She’s figured out a great thing to do with all those seeds so that every seed eventually gets shared, planted, and enjoyed.

… This is where you come in my dear readers. I’m that gardener, if you hadn’t already guessed. I have nearly all of the original letters though I did toss the envelopes to save space through a couple moves. I was thinking that some of you may also be gardeners, or know someone who would love some tall perky hollyhocks. Here’s what I’d like to do. I’d like to send you some of the seeds but I’m also going to send you the original letter so you know the story behind the hollyhock seeds that you receive. I found that so many of the gardeners had sent me letters explaining the heritage of the particular seed they had collected, or that it came from a neighbours garden and how much it was admired in the neighbourhood. Some of the people told me their seed originated from England — one even told me hers came from Greece! Some have come from gardens that are 3 generations old. Some seed was gleaned from the Calgary Zoo and one came from a famous garden in England, yet most originated from old farm houses or old yards in established neighbourhoods. Some people told me how they suggested growing the seeds or how to best start them. A few people even sent photographs of their hollyhocks. I loved reading the letters again, just as I did when they first arrived. And, in case you’re wondering, I did respond to each and every person when I originally received them. Believe me it was a lot of writing because I didn’t do a form letter. I wrote each and every person and gave them a personal response. With a few of the gardeners I shared some of the seed already gleaned (because a few had asked for certain colours in case I might have received lots).

One thing you need to know is that despite the seeds being years old, that doesn’t matter at all. I have always found that as long as seed is kept dry and undamaged, the germination rate is just fine. That’s why I’m going to use some of the seed to plant hollyhocks in my current yard. Hollyhocks do need multiple seeds to get a few plants anyway — that’s why each plant puts out so many seeds. If you would like some of the seed, leave a response in the comments and I’ll get back to you to obtain your address privately. If you have a particular colour you’d prefer, let me know that too. Many of the seeds I received are packaged separately by colour. Some of the seeds are mixed colours but some are individual. I will also send you the letter from the person who shared those seeds. I think it’s fitting to share the story as well as the seeds. Feel free to let others know about this offer (and share this link with them) so they can put in their request.

Photo credit: Hellsgeriatric (from Flickr)

UPDATE: I have now been able to find homes for all the hollyhock seeds. Thank you to all who have inquired and sorry for anyone who may have come later.

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dinahmow - January 6, 2013 - 9:16 pm

Oh! What a nice story, Diane.Like foxgloves, hollyhocks are very deep in my garden psyche.Sadly, they would not survive tropical summers.How do I know this? Guess! ๐Ÿ˜‰
But I’ll pass the link to others.

andrea - January 7, 2013 - 8:24 am

What a great story. I have only ever had one hollyhock plant — so dark it was almost black!

Debbie - January 7, 2013 - 10:24 am

thanks for the offer, I would love to have some seeds from you. I have followed your posts for awhile now and to see flowers bloom in my garden would be a reminder of the inspiration you are.

Still and All - January 7, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Another wonderful story! This would make a great feature in Canadian Gardening or Chatelaine or similar, don’t you think? I’d encourage you to share it more widely. As for the seed, I would love to have a few. I have a lot of space in my newish backyard and hollyhocks would look super. Such happy flowers. We don’t plant until the end of May. Thanks for your generous offer, Diane!

Cicerosings - January 8, 2013 - 11:03 am

Hi Diane,
Hollyhocks really are lovely flowers. I tried growing them at the coast and feel I must warn you that they are very subject to rust what with the coastal weather so humid and all! Perhaps you are in a bit of a rain shadow? Still … something to watch out for.

Jakki - January 8, 2013 - 11:47 am

What a wonderful story! I have hollyhock bushes and I love them. When I purchased my first (and only) home my supervisor brought me a bag of these crazy looking dried out seeds! I didnt know what to say or do with them. She told me to plant them where ever I wanted a striking pink color. I kept them in the garage for about a year and eventually…I planted all along my fence line. I LOVE THEM! That has been 8 years now and the blossom’s are gorgeous.

Susan - January 8, 2013 - 7:52 pm

Diane, what a great story. This reminds me of the children’s book by Barbara Cooney -“Miss Rumphius” (although she planted Lupine). My grandmother always planted Hollyhocks in her garden. So beautiful!

Kelly @ JAX does design - January 9, 2013 - 12:31 pm

What a fantastic & generous idea! I would love some Hollyhock seeds and to read the story behind them – please add me to your seed list ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m going to share this with friends who may be interested as well.

I can imagine how much time it took to write back to everyone who sent you seeds. But I’m sure every person was as appreciative of your thank you notes as you were of them sending you the seeds ๐Ÿ™‚

Candace - January 18, 2013 - 6:35 pm

Neat idea! They’re beautiful. I don’t think they would survive AZ summers either so I will pass because I would feel bad that something so old didn’t have a chance. It’s brutal here in the summer.

carolin shutler - February 19, 2013 - 6:33 am

I would love to have some hollyhock seeds. Thank u