During the summer the tall spires of hollyhocks are an irresistible sight. Don’t look too closely, though, because the foliage is usually covered in rust. Fortunately it is now possible to have flowers which are as beguiling as hollyhocks but with minimal rust. Alcalthaea has a shrubby appearance with grey, velvety leaves and creamy-apricot flowers , in the centre of which is a group of pinky-bronze stamens surrounded by a ruff of what appear to be tiny petals. It is a beautiful combination that continues right through to the Autumn. Usually recommended as a plant that needs lots of sunshine to reach its full height of 2m, mine are thriving in shade under conifers.
There are two other forms, ‘Parkrondell’ which has deep pink flowers and ‘Parkfrieden’ which has paler, more salmon pink ones. The plant has gone through several name changes and you may find it sold as simply Alcea. A great plant, whatever its called.