Hollyhock, scent laden,
Curtsies cheerfully to the breeze.
Those old gossip come alive
To spread the word among the bees
When Poppies and Buttercups, Cream Cups, and Baby-Blue-Eyes all color the fields, you see pink spots here and there. Then, you know Wild Hollyhock has come to town. Its color is subtle, but it is well-built to last through the year.
Choose a leg. Watch how all the beautiful bell-shaped flowers crowd to their top. Look at one flower. It looks as if it is made of cute pink gauze. It contains many heavy white lines leading to the center. You exclaim, “Ah! Miss Holyoke is calling bugs.”
Even if your eyes didn’t see these honey trails, your nose would tell you that they were making honey. And such honey! Even sweeter than a blue-eyed child. You find the small bowls are well filled. Above each pot is a curtain of soft hair. These bristles are fixed so that if a drop of dew falls on it, it will slide without falling into the sweet dish, thus remaining pure. Bees love this feast and come for miles to get it.
Look again at Miss Hollyhock’s bell. Look closely at the stamens. In Baby-Blue-Eyes, she found five stamens standing on a corolla. In Hollyhock, you find them standing close together in a loop. It looks like a small vase. Divide this vase into two circles of stamens. Now, you only have to see that the little anthers are a lovely pinkish-pink color and the pollen is a creamy powder.
You will find that the pistil is inside the stamen vase. The pistil only grows after the anthers have shaken away their creamy powder. Then the stamens grow higher than the vase. You see it get ready to make seed too late to use the pollen from its stamens. These have been ready for so long, that their pollen has been carried away. No pollen could be obtained to make seeds, if Mrs. Bug had not brought it from another flower.
But with that shimmery dress and delicious honey, Mrs. Bug is sure to come along. And after the tasting, she is sure to go to another Hollyhock for more of the good food. She visits Hollyhock one by one. In some cases, the stamens will be sure to be ready to shed pollen. In other cases, the pistil will be ready to receive pollen. So, sure, Miss Hollyhock will make a good seed, and Mrs. Bug will make her forget about a good meal.
After the pollen has fallen on the pistil, Miss Hollyhock no longer needs the insect. She does not make more food. She is a very honest person. She does not wish to disturb Mrs. Bee unless she will be paid. Therefore, she changes the light pink color of the corolla to a dark purple one. This sign means ‚“No more parties in this flower.”
“Hmm!” Bees hum. “Is that right? Well, I’ll go to the light-colored Hollyhock.”
She takes a swing at the newly opened Hollyhock and helps out with her work.
When the seed begins to sprout, the corolla falls off, but the calyx sticks to it.
In the flower bud, you can see how the sepals are folded together to keep the flower intact. See how furry it is on the outside and how silky lined it is on the inside. You see there are an equal number of sepals in Hollyhock as there are petals, one-fifth sepals, and five petals.
If you look at a flower stem, you will see that the buds closest to the ground open first. When the corolla falls off, the next higher buds open. And so the pink flowers creep higher and higher, even to the crest of the wave. Look at other plants and see if they all bloom this way. Do the ones in your home garden bloom from the bottom of the trunk up?
Look at the papers. Some are almost round. Others are cut into portions. Put one round on a sheet of paper. Draw a pencil around its edge. Now put the cut paper face down. Draw around its outer edge. You see the leaves the same. You will find it easy to draw a Hollyhock stem if you remember the outline of the leaves. Buds are not difficult to draw. The flower is not difficult to draw. A Hollyhock shank makes a sweet silhouette.
Are the round leaves the same color as the cut leaves? Are the leaves the same color on their tops as on their bottoms? Are there both types of hair leaves on them? Do leaves near flowers have stems as long as leaves near the ground?
Do you use Hollyhock seeds in your pretend parties? See how the seeds split. We used to play as parts of an orange. They are good to eat. Watch what birds are eating at the feeders.
Miss Hollyhock has a older sister who helps her out at Doll’s Party. This is the mallow that comes to many parks. They come along the streets, wherever there is the smallest piece of land. Now, don’t lift your nose and sniff, that weed! Her seed cases are “Cheese” Children all over the world play with them.
They are only cut to be cut into pancakes. We call them ‘Cheese’ and so do children in England. Children in France and children in Spain play with them and call them “cheese” in their native language.
Isn’t it fun to think that we’re playing with the same kind of seed cases that kids in other countries are playing with? Mother Nature sends many interesting things to children.