Hollyhock Alcea rosea
Alcea rosea is a hardy perennial, and once established should for many years. It will grow in a wide range of soils, and can easily reach a height of about 8 ft.
The tall blooming spires of the hollyhock have graced cottage gardens since its introduction in the 16th century. A biennial or short-lived perennial, it grows to a height of 1.2-2.5m (4-8ft), and bears oversized round leaves and large flowers of white, pink, purple, red or yellow arranged in spikes. Hollyhock requires little more than well-drained soil and full sun, blending well with any colour scheme to create a visually arresting display. Its height makes it an effective screen plant to hide compost heaps or fences. It attracts bees, hummingbirds and butterflies, is hardy almost everywhere and self-seeds, tenaciously returning year after year. Historically used as a dye plant, fresh red blooms can be used to create red or pink dyes, with good fastness. Flowers and young leaves can be added to salads. As a gargle, the dried flowerhelps soothe oral inflammations. An absolute must-have plant for traditional, historic or cottage garden themes.