A Special Hollyhock.

I am joining in with the favourite flower meme at dangergarden this week with a very special plant.  I have written about it before, but it is so lovely I have to mention it again. It is my favourite flower at the moment.  It has been in bloom for ages. It is a hollyhock which isn’t a hollyhock. In fact there seems to be some confusion about what it is. You some times find it listed as a Malva and sometimes as an Alcea. It is neither of these things;  its correct name is x Alcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkallee’.
This beautiful plant flowers in August and September, long after ordinary hollyhocks have finished. It is a perennial and every year the clump grows bigger and bigger and gets taller and taller. It can reach 3 metre high and has easily attained this in my garden.
The colour of the flowers is the palest peach or would you call it coffee with cream? They are semi double with a pretty ruffle in the centre and purple tipped stamens. As the flowers age they become creamier.
I read in the September issue of Gardens Illustrated that the origin of this plant is unknown. I don’t know why there is so much confusion about it. I have  seen it suggested that one of its parents could be Kitaibelia or even Hibiscus syriacus.
There is actually no mystery about its origins. It was bred in Hungary in 1953 by Prof. Zoltan Kovats and then propagated in East Germany and made available in the 1990s. He wanted to breed a hollyhock that was resistant to the awful rust: Puccinia malvacearum which usually disfigures them. He used a hollyhock: Alcea rosea as one parent and crossed it with the wild marshmallow: Althaea officinalis.. This lovely flower is becoming rare in the wild although it grows in profusion on the coast at Dunwich in Suffolk, and I showed one in a recent post.
If you look at the leaves of the marshmallow you will see that they are the same healthy, blue-green as the ones of the Alcalthaea.
I love this plant; it gets better and better with age, although it does need to be staked or it topples over. It doesn’t set seed but is very easy from cuttings.
I have recently acquired its sister plant: x Alcalthaea suffrutescens ‘Parkrondell’ which is pink.
Now I am looking for the soft pink one ‘Parkfrieden’ which doesn’t seem so readily available. There was also one called ‘Parktraum’ but it seems to have been lost. I don’t think it was ever available in this country.
If you love hollyhocks, then look out for these lovely, late flowering beauties. But allow plenty of room for them, because in a couple of years they will be taller than you. You will have long spires studded with these gorgeous satiny flowers in the most delicate colours.

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64 Responses to A Special Hollyhock.

  1. AnnetteM says:

    Those are beautiful plants and how interesting that you know their history. I love hollyhocks because we used to have them outside the kitchen window where I grew up. I have tried to grow them here but without success – the slugs usually just eat them. Maybe I should try these instead.

  2. pbmgarden says:

    I really like your Parkallee Chloris. Interesting to read its background.

  3. Benjamin says:

    Great flower and great history lesson! I love hollyhocks and this beauty would make a great addition to our garden. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    A wonderful plant – a rust free hollyhock would be a dream! Thanks for sharing this, I’ll be looking for one.

  5. Alain says:

    What a lovely plant. I have grown Kitaibelia but the flowers are small and the plant rather coarse. This looks magnificent in comparison. It is a pitty Alcalthaea does not produce seeds. If it did, it would be easier to get.

    • Chloris says:

      Kitaibelias, malvas, lavateras and hollyhocks are all related. I think it was a brilliant idea to cross a hollyhock with an Althaea to get this lovely rust free plant. I suppose it doesn’t set seed because it is a mule of the plant world.

  6. Kris P says:

    It’s a beautiful plant. It doesn’t appear to be available on this side of the pond, however. Although I suspect it wouldn’t do well in my climate, I can dream…

  7. Interesting. I can see why it’s your favorite this week … and also why people get confused about it. Lovely plant!

    • Chloris says:

      It is a bit confusing but as Professor Kovats said which plants he used as parents I don’ t know why people have come up with all these other suggestions.j

  8. solarbeez says:

    Lovely flower, but do the bees like it (my litmus test for all flowers)?

  9. gardenfancyblog says:

    How lovely! I had no idea about this flower. I grow many single hollyhocks, which seed themselves around everywhere except where I want them to grow 🙂 and have also grown lavatera, which I think is related to hollyhocks too. I will see if I can find your statuesque recommendation here in the US too. Thanks! -Beth

  10. Cathy says:

    I definitely will look out for this Chloris. I especially like the creamy coloured Parkallee. I have already looked up a supplier of all three sorts in Germany and while googling found this UK supplier for Parkfrieden too: http://www.desirableplants.com/a_acanthus_athyrium_plants_by_mail_order.html
    I think Parkallee is the prettiest though! I have a huge pink hollyhock that does often get rust, and this would be a great partner for it. Lovely post Chloris! 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    I have just added this to my notebook of plants I would love to grow. I sadly stopped growing Hollyhocks here as the rust seemed to worsen every year. Love all of the background information too, it really brings this plant to life.

  12. croftgarden says:

    What an outstanding plant. I shall have to admire yours as it is too tall for my windy garden.

  13. Chloris says:

    Yes I think it would be too windy for you. I have struggled to keep it upright with all the recent winds we have had.

  14. alison says:

    What a very interesting blog! Lots of very useful information which I will make a note of and also investigate the website offered by one of your readers. By the way, our lone Hollyhock (deep pink) is still in bud but the whole plant looks in good health so the pleasure, hopefully, is all to come.

  15. rusty duck says:

    It’s a lovely plant. It looks like you are growing it in shade, or at least dappled sun?

    • Chloris says:

      I have several because it is easy from cuttings. Some are in full sun and others in partial shade. It doesn’t t seem to make much difference, but they are supposed to prefer full sun.

  16. Flighty says:

    Interesting post and lovely pictures. xx

  17. It’s a beauty isn’t it? Just a gentle colour yet it really makes an impact. I am presuming that it does not suffer rust like Hollyhocks can as it looks ever so healthy.

    • Chloris says:

      It is a gorgeous colour. No , it doesn,’ t get rust. It is very healthy. Professor Kovats crossed it with the marshmallow because this plant doesn’t get rust.

  18. What a beautiful plant, I particularly like the pink one, that sings to me!

  19. I adore hollyhocks, and ‘Parkallee’ is especially adorable. I will add it to my ever extending ‘wants’ list. Thanks for sharing.

  20. hoehoegrow says:

    I want I want I want! Totally new to me and totally gorgeous ! Now … to find one in Deepest Lincolnshire …

  21. Chloris says:

    Don’ t worry. If you love it so much you must have it . I will send you a cutting in the spring.

  22. Christina says:

    Chloris, that is truly spectacular, do you think it would grow here? Hollyhocks grow by the motorways so they obviously don’t need much water but it’s parent the Marshmallow of course does. You say it doesn’t grow from seed so I suppose I’ll never see it to buy anyway, but I can dream! Thanks for sharing this I don’t remember reading about it before.

  23. bittster says:

    I love that it doesn’t get rust. I avoid true hollyhocks for that reason.
    I don’t know about the color though, it might be too ‘coffee’ for my tastes…. or at least that’s what I’m going to tell myself since it doesn’t seem to be easy to find around here… but I can picture a nice tall clump, and if I had nothing better to keep myself occupied with I wonder what would come of repeating the Professor’s cross with a single hollyhock or a red one…..

    • Chloris says:

      I don’t think it would work trying to cross this with something else as it is sterile. I wonder how hard it would be to try and make your own cross with a marshmallow and a hollyhock of your choice.

  24. snowbird says:

    Oh….what an exquisite plant, I would dearly love to have one too, now I have hollyhocks and musk and marshmallows, how do I get them to produce your jewel? A really lovely post, I did enjoy it.xxx

  25. Chloris says:

    I will send you a cutting in the spring when I have lots of new shoots.

  26. Annette says:

    Parkallee is absolutely beautiful and seems to aim for higher spheres by the look of it! I like hollyhocks but never grow them as I fear the rust which makes them ugly. Also I like them along the wall of a cottage or house and our houses never seem to lend them for this type of planting.

    • Chloris says:

      You would love this one Annette. It doesn’t get rust. You probably wouldn’t want to grow it against the wall it grows into a shrub when it is mature.

  27. Adore the colour of “Parkallee” – so beautiful!

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  29. Anna says:

    Oh what a beauty Chloris. I’ve read about this one in magazines and have been undecided but from what you say it lives up the hype. I’m now convinced 🙂

  30. Wow! It looks like ‘Parkallee’ is headed for the tree branches. Will it tolerate much shade? The form and color of the bloom is very attractive. I would love to give it a try.

    • Chloris says:

      It is supposed to love full sun but I have some plants in semi shade too and they seem quite happy. The tall one is growing up into a holly which seems appropriate for a hollyhock.

  31. So many lovely plants, and each so special. Great read. thanks. D.

  32. Chloris says:

    Thanks Doris. I love all these hollyhocks but Parkallee is my favourite.

  33. Cathy says:

    What an amazing plant Chloris – with all those pretty flowers too! Too tall for me though (if I am permitted to be heightist)… 😉

  34. posygentles2015 says:

    I love Parkallee and finally found a rather leggy specimen which has evidently been rather a long time in its pot. Do you cut yours backing the autumn and how much? Also do you have advice on taking cuttings, should mine survive the winter?

  35. Christina says:

    It was lovely to reread this Liz; although the marshmallow doesn’t grow here there are lots of other mallows; I know it will need irrigation but hopefully not too much.

  36. Pingback: Holidays and Hollyhocks | gardening on the edge

  37. Pingback: In a Vase on Monday. Hollyhocks. | The Blooming Garden

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