Plant Now: Lavatera trimestris


Lavatera trimestris is a great cut flower with white and rose-pink blooms from summer to autumn. These plants are annuals, but they do self-sow, so they should pop up again the following year. Sow seeds direct or in trays for transplanting later. Choose a spot in full sun that has well-draining soil. Kings Seeds, Egmont Seeds and GardenPost all sell these bushy plants. Sarah Raven has a beautiful dwarf pale pink-white version here (second and third photos from top).

Plant Now: Hollyhocks and Mallows


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I haven’t planted hollyhocks for a couple of years but I am going to do so this year. I should really have sown the seeds in autumn, but I’m going to sow them now (mid-winter) anyway. Undercover, of course. In my new makeshift greenhouse on the deck. Needs must. I long for an enormous Victorian-style glasshouse, but I neither have the room nor the money to purchase one. So my makeshift plastic contraption will suffice for now.

Hollyhocks (Althaea) flower from late spring/early summer and, depending on what variety you get, can tower above all other plants in the garden. If you don’t want to sow seeds, wait till the seedlings hit the shops (possibly next month) then plant them straight in the garden about 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks, especially in humid areas.

Indian or French hollyhocks (second from bottom) do, as their name suggests, look like hollyhocks, but they are actually mallows. They can be sown at the same time as hollyhocks – or look out for the seedlings in garden centres a few weeks down the track.

Photo credits: Top photo from Dave on Flickr; Photo second from top is from Happy At Home; The pale pink hollyhock was found on Indulgy; the striped mallow was also from Indulgy; the beautiful hollyhock artwork is by Fran Stoval.