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‘The Watchman’ Hollyhock

July 9th, 2010

Last year I purchase some seeds from Botanical Interests for ‘The Watchman’ Hollyhock. I mean how can you not want to grow a flower in your garden described as “towers of black satin”. Thomas Jefferson grew these in his gardens at Monticello, and now that I have one blooming I can clearly see why.

Last year I attempted to start the seeds, but didn’t get any germination or so I thought. I emptied the containers that contained the seeds into the front flowerbed and I noticed a week or two that one of the hollyhocks was black. I guess one of them germinated sometime last summer. You may remember that I used the floating method, which worked wonderfully. I was able to get 4 of the seeds to germinate. That means I’ll have more of these in my garden next summer (hollyhocks rarely bloom the same year they’re started unless they’re started very early).

This is how ‘The Watchman’ is described: From a distance, the dark color of The Watchman is as black as the moonless night sky, but on closer inspection you can see its rich purplish burgundy cast. In 1629, John Parkinson described black hollyhocks as being of a dark red like black blood. Thomas Jefferson grew them at his Monticello estate and loved them nearly as much as he did his roses. Seductive towers of flowers for bees and butterflies, they make an excellent backdrop for pink, red, yellow, or white flowers, and fences. (Botanical Interests)

These dark blooms will be a wonderful addition to my front foundation border. I think they’ll look particularity wonderful with my greenish white ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea and all the other pink and purple flowers that dominate this space.

Do you have any dark flowers in your garden?

15 Comments to “‘The Watchman’ Hollyhock”
  1. Susanne on July 9, 2010 at 4:55 am

    How beautiful! There are a lot of Hollyhocks in the place where my boyfriend lives, but I’ve seldom seen any of that colour.

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  2. Rose on July 9, 2010 at 5:20 am

    I love my goth-flowers! I have some hollihocks going as well but they were just started this year – so I’ve only got the cluster of leaves right now, hopefully next year I’ll have some blooms.

    I have some very dark flowers; a very dark red rosebush where the buds start out almost black, and I’ve also got some pansies which are of the black variety. I want some of the black-bladed grasses I’ve seen in other gardens but I honestly don’t know where it would go, I’m still in the planning stage of how the garden should look and what to cram in.

    I love balancing the darker colours with some of the brighter white blooms from simple plants like goats rue, or asters, chrysanthemums and osteopermums. Lovely contrasts.

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    • Susy on July 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Sounds lovely. I have a black elderberry as well with lovely black lacy leaves. I’m hoping to get some of the dark purple sedum someday!

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  3. Judy on July 9, 2010 at 7:07 am

    This spring my teenage daughter and I took on a Goth Garden project together. It was a great way to get her excited about gardening. Se started lots of perennials from seeds- including The Watchman, so we don’t have tons of flowers this year. My personal favorite isn’t for the leaves but for the foliage. We planted Black Pearl peppers. They have beautiful dark foliage and hopefully soon we will have some tiny, supposedly VERY hot peppers.

    Reply to Judy's comment

    • Susy on July 9, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Black peppers sound really wonderful and I like them hot!

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  4. Dave on July 9, 2010 at 9:36 am

    I like that hollyhock better than what we currently have. Ours are mostly white with a purple center. They’ve self-seeded a bit this year so I’ll be doing some transplanting eventually. They always end up in funny places! I should look into the dark side of flowers more. I really don’t have much.

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  5. Wider Sky on July 9, 2010 at 9:53 am

    No dark flowers, but some Hollyhocks which I hope are soon to flower. We used to see them everywhere in Suffolk and have wanted some at our home since we moved there. We finally grew some from seed last year and I’d forgotten about them until they started to tower above everything else in the bed! Can’t wait for them to come out – but can’t remember what colour they should be. Note to self – must keep better records!

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  6. Turling on July 9, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I really love the dark flowers. We dont have any in our current place. Your hollyhocks are lovely. Do they get very tall?

    Reply to Turling's comment

    • Susy on July 9, 2010 at 11:27 am

      This one is 3-4 feet tall, I have some tall double pink ones that are probably around 8-9 feet tall. This one may be taller next year as I find that they get taller and taller.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Melisa on July 9, 2010 at 10:57 am

    My grandpa always grew hollyhocks. He first planted then by the garden at my dad’s house 20 years ago, and they are still blooming every year. He has been gone for 13 years now, but every year he shows himself in those flowers. I think they are one of the most beautiful flowers–and of course they always remind me of him. I can’t wait to find and plant this variety.

    Reply to Melisa's comment

  8. Kendra @ A Sonoma Garden on July 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

    I love hollyhocks! And yours are beautiful. I tried growing them here for a few years but the mildew always got to them, so now I am just an admirer. Beautiful!

    Reply to Kendra @ A Sonoma Garden's comment

  9. MAYBELLINE on July 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Wow! Those are spectacular. Hollyhocks are so old fashioned. I love them.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  10. Helen on July 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    What gorgeous flowers, they look like velvet.

    Reply to Helen's comment

  11. Susan on July 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    What a striking flower! I have never grown them, but I would like to try something different. I tend to like flowers like foxglove, bee balm and poppies. The photographs are stunning —

    Reply to Susan's comment

  12. Amy on July 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    I have grown these over the years and enjoyed them immensely and they always attract attention from non-gardeners and gardeners alike…….When we moved last year I thought I had brought some with me…….I didn’t,,,,,,the only one I seemed to have brought is a sherbert yellow……I will start some again in the spring……thanks for the reminder and the lovely photos of yours….

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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