My paper flower for the month of August is the hollyhock. These beautiful flowers, symbol of fruitfulness, are a real favourite of mine. My first recollections of hollyhocks were as a young adult where they grew up around the lychgate of the village church, at that time it was my quintessential image of a perfect British summer. Years on and now growing in my garden in the south west of France they are a symbol of long mellow sunny days.
Hollyhock flowers bloom at the top of a central stem, tall spires which can grow up to 3 metres tall. The plants, related to the hibiscus, originated in Asia but were already in Europe by the 15th century. These biennials grow in full sun in well-drained soil, will flower from midsummer to the autumn and are available in a large range of colours.
The whole of the plant is non-toxic and useful. Although the petals are edible, they don’t have, in many people’s opinion, a great taste or texture but look beautiful as a cake decoration or as part of a salad. They are used in cosmetic manufacture and as colouring in some food products – you can even make a homemade hair dye with them. Don’t forget the stems, they can be dried for firewood.
The roots, petals and seeds also have a large range of medicinal properties from treating kidney stones, to calming fevers, easing wounds and resolving gastric disorders. Hollyhocks have clearly been healing for many years as seeds were found in the burial mounds of early man.
So why are hollyhocks such a good subject for a bunch of paper flowers? The reason is that they do not make good cut flowers as they wilt quickly once picked. My hollyhocks made with crepe paper and nuanced with watercolour paint have been created to sit comfortably in a vase and profit from the wide range of colours. Therefore treat yourself or a friend to a lovely mixed bouquet of paper hollyhock blooms that won’t droop and leave the real ones in the garden.
Visit my website to see the 8 stem bouquet created by Tornade de Roses for the month of August. It is also the 13th wedding anniversary flower if you are looking for a present.
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