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Hollyhock, the queen of midsummer

Posted on Jul 15, 2021 by

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Hollyhocks, these tall plants with crêpe paper petals and sturdy stems and leaves, are the queens of the flowers in midsummer. Before moving to the Netherlands, I considered hollyhocks to be weeds, growing on the fields and abandoned lands. It’s not a plant common to Romanian gardens. But in Amsterdam, and in the entire Netherlands, people plant hollyhocks around the home entrances, for good luck (or maybe just for decorative purposes).

Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) can grow to over two meters in height, and the stems are lined with flowers. Probably that’s where the Dutch name for the plant comes: stokroos (basically, roses on a stick). They look amazing, with flowers in vibrant colours (mostly pinks and reds, with one of the red ones being so dark that it almost looks black), but also white or yellow. The plant has been used traditionally in herbal medicine for tea and ointments, treating inflammation and as an emollient, and it’s edible — you can try a hollyhock clafoutis to impress your guests. I only tried the petal tea for washing my face, because who needs to buy rose water when you have hollyhock all over the place?!

In July, hollyhocks thrive in Amsterdam, bringing colour to brick walls or along the canals. I’m fascinated by them, so I had to dedicate a photo essay to this wonderful plant. I hope you enjoy my photo stories that will come every week from now on!

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