My 'First Year Hollyhock' image has a funny story.
I'd always wanted to grow a ton of hollyhocks because my great-aunt had a many growing around their house when I was growing up. I always had thought they were really awesome flowers, I mean, they grow in these tall stalks and just have tons of color.
So, I tried to plant them. A few times. What I didn't realize was that the first year they grow into this weird little bushy clump and they bloom in the SECOND year. So, I essentially tried to grow them on and off for three or four years and ripped them out each time thinking they were weeds.
The year that these bloomed was the year that I finally figured out my own stupidity. I had a full crop of lovely magenta flowers.
The ones that I planted were true old school variety, nowadays you see a lot of the double flowered hybrid kinds and those don't have the open 'cup' that these do, they look more like carnations.
This image was also the second place finisher in the U of M Extension flower photo contest.
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Melissa Niederkorn is a photographer based in Forest Lake, Minnesota.