My adventure in hollyhocks began on a cold January day and quite by accident. My husband, daughter and I were strolling through downtown, freezing our butts off, when I passed a clump of hollyhock remnants from the previous summer and on a whim took a pod of seeds and stuffed them in my coat pocket. Months went by and it became a standing joke that I had hollyhock seeds in one of my winter coat’s pocket and wasn’t that funny, yet so typical? When April rolled around, I decided to plant them with the rest of my seeds since my curiosity was piqued–what color would they be? Would they be doubles? Singles? For those of you who grow hollyhocks, right about now you’re probably thinking, “Hey come to my garden I have hollyhock seedlings popping up all over the place!” It’s true: hollyhocks are great escape artists and reseed readily. I’m not sure, then, why I was so surprised to see them germinate and grow so quickly into seedlings but I was thrilled. Into the garden they went and when the first bud opened I felt like a little kid on Christmas seeing those satiny, ruby-red petals unfurl. A pal on Instagram warned me to watch out for rust (the fungus Puccinia malvacearum) and it was like a premonition because not long after I started to see those tell-tale reddish blobs form on the otherwise pristine leaves. Soon, the entire plants were covered and I knew my adventure was at an end. All the plants excepting the one that was flowering the most (see photos above) were removed. I left this remaining hollyhock for as long as possible since the bees were enjoying it so much but then it, too, had to go. No disease-ridden plants in my garden, thank you very much. Even though it had a bit of a disappointing ending, I must say that I enjoyed the adventure. It’s fun to be a part of the growing process from start to finish and it inspired me to collect more of our own garden seeds. I’d love to try hollyhocks again someday so if anyone has a recommendation for a more rust-resistant variety I’d love to hear it!