June2013 053I’ve always loved hollyhocks, and yet have never been able to grow them. In Sault Ste Marie, down on Wallace Terrace and Korah Road lived an old Italian lady and the perimeter of her double lot was planted with hollyhocks. These solitary, fuzzy, tall plants marked the borders of her property. I could never get up close, there was a wide ditch between the sidewalk and her fence. And the hollyhocks were on her side of the wooden slats.

I don’t like the modern incarnations – the double hollyhocks. Just try and find the old plants. The nurseries assume that if someone is going to plant hollyhocks, they would want the doubles, the full bloom variety. They are no longer the simple farm flowers of old. To me they’re addicts nursed on the chemical tit of modern agri-business. (The hollyhock is native to the far East. In Japan it’s incorporated into the official seal of the Tokugawa shogunate.)

I like the buds as much as I like the paper-thin flowers. The buds remind me of hazelnut pods. (Another of those instances where an item pulls out the primal memories of childhood. But these memories are all mixed up; they are in pieces jigged together to form new pictures. There are image-pieces from growing up in Aprigliano and collecting hazelnut husks; there are image-memories of drying the hazelnuts at Christmas in order to play with them. We would roll them down a ramp. You kept rolling them and rolling them hoping one would hit. If one hit, you got to collect and keep all the nuts on the floor.)