Monday, August 2, 2010

August Muse Day: Where Have They All Gone?

A late and abbreviated Muse Day post today--I've been down all weekend with a nasty stomach bug, and now my daughter has caught it.  I'll be around to visit everyone later as soon as I've disinfected my whole house!

Those "of a certain age" like myself will remember the song "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary,* among others.  The revised version below is what I'm humming in the garden these days . . .

Zinnia Border at the Master Gardeners' Idea Garden in Urbana, Illinois.
Where have all the zinnias gone, long time passing?
Where have all the zinnias gone, sown months ago?

A stand of zinnias in the Children's Garden at the Idea Garden.
Where have all the zinnias gone?
Washed out in June rains, every one

When will she ever learn?  When will she ever learn?

Those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile know how much I like zinnias.  Easily grown by direct sowing outdoors in late spring, zinnias are a great burst of color in late summer when so many other flowers are fading.  I planted some seed this year, as I have for the past two years in the roadside garden, but I haven't seen a single seedling this summer.  My best guess is that the flooding we had in mid-June which left this area under standing water for several days washed away all the seeds. 

I do have Profusion and Zahara zinnias in this garden as well as in containers and other areas.  But it's the tall--3-4' foot--zinnias that I love. So this year when the coneflowers fade, there will be no bright splashes of orange, pink, purple, and yellow to take their place.  I'll have to go to the Idea Garden instead--which is where all these photos were taken--to get my zinnia fix.

And while I'm wondering, here's a second verse...

My best hollyhock last year--growing in the compost pile!
Where have all the hollyhocks gone, long time passing?
Where have all the hollyhocks gone, grown long, long ago?

One puny white hollyhock this year.

Where have all the hollyhocks gone?
Fallen to disease? To pests?
We may never learn, we may never learn.

The hollyhocks that have grown here freely for years and years, all from seeds or plants originating with my husband's grandfather or my grandmother, have been very few in number this year. Granted, I pulled out some volunteers that appeared in places I didn't want them, although I left this pink one at the edge of my vegetable garden.  Most do not look very healthy, which makes me wonder if they have succumbed to hollyhock rust. Whatever the cause, I'm going to collect as many seeds as I can this fall and hope for the best for next year.

*For other fans of Peter, Paul, and Mary, videos of them performing this song can be easily found on YouTube; I didn't have time to download one here today.  I was lucky enough to see them in live performances twice, once in the late 60's at the height of their career and once in the late 90's--they still sounded great then even after 30 years.  Sadly, with the passing of Mary Travers last September, their harmonious folk ballads can now be heard only through recordings.

Garden Muse Day is brought to you the first of each month by the talented Carolyn Gail of Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.


  1. I never have success with zinnias in the garden. They do wonderfully well in pots but always get mildew and look horrible when planted in the garden. Hollyhocks were growing when I first moved here. Over time their insect pests increased until I had to give them up too. Really sad because these are two otherwise lovely and easy plants.

  2. I have found that Zinnias are difficult to start but when they get going they do well. I have had to start mine several times to get them going. Some years like this year I didn't even try to grow them. This year the hollyhocks where I work aren't as good as most years. Maybe they didn't like all that rain either.
    I hope you and yours are feeling better now. Happy Garden Muse Day.

  3. I hope you're feeling better soon! Sorry to hear about the zinnias and hollyhocks, and hopefully next season will be better for them. I think the rains earlier this year washed away all my alyssum seeds.

  4. HI Rose....I do so hope that you are feeling much better.....stomach bugs do leave one feeling rather weak.

    Zinnias and hollyhock are both gorgeous. Perhaps you will have more luck next year.
    My garden has not done as well as other years......this long dry spell has really made the garden struggle.......there are changes to come. I think the climate is definately changing and intend to plant wildflowers, that have stood the test of time.

    Flights are booked, will be in touch at some exciting.

  5. I am asking myself 'where have all the dahlias gone?' Planted so carefully but now no sign of them.

    It is a mystery; I don't even have flooding to blame.

    I hope you're much better now and that your daughter is also recovered.

  6. Bummer on the zinnias washing away:( I hope they come back even stronger from the seeds sown this year from your current crop. Get well soon! P.S. I remember that group and have fond memories of singing their songs while in church summer camp-those were the days!s

  7. My Grandma said zinnias were common and too showy. My Mom said Grandma was stuck up! I'm with Mom.

  8. Sorry to hear you've been sick. That is absolutely no fun. And sorry about your zinnias. They always seems so easy, until that one season... oh well, next year!

    Love the song reference, too, by the way.


  9. Hi Rose, Hope you are feeling better soon! I haven't had much luck with hollyhocks this year, either, and they normally do well for me. I don't have any zinnia flowers, but foliage, but that's my own fault because I didn't direct sow them until July 4. DOH!

  10. Wow, am I impressed with your song writing abilities. After all these years, I find out something new about you. :)

    No zinnias here either. But the Idea Garden has some wonderful masses of them. I wonder if they were satrted from seedlings and then transplanted. Maybe that is how we should do them next year. After we have our first round of seedlings planted ourside and in containers, we should refill the flats and plant bunches of zinnias.

    Gosh, what a bummer to be sick this week. I know you have much to do and a lot of visiting to get in. Hope you both are on the mend very soon.

  11. Rose, It was a good song and I like your repurposing it to ask the important garden questions! Where the heck have our flowers gone! Rain then drought has done them all in. I'm wishing you a speedy recovery. gail

  12. I loved Peter Paul and Mary. Where Have All The Flowers Gone was a classic. I always loved Puff The Magic Dragon no matter what the hidden meaning was supposed to be!

    I am sorry you haven't had much luck with your Zinnias. You never know what summer has in store. My Hollyhocks croaked quite quickly from Rust this year.

  13. Thank you Rose, that song will be playing in my head all day, one of my all time faves. I am so sorry you and your daughter have been ill. Hope you both recover completely soon. The zinnias are so cheerful and beloved by the pollinators. We covered the seeds with chickenwire this year with success although some catt is trying to eat the buds. Hollyhocks are wonderful, hope you figure out how to get them going again, especially since they have sentiment attached. Lucky you to have seen PPM live, they were pure magic! :-)
    ps, word verification is cingo! Singing Ringo? HA

  14. i don't think i've heard that song before hehe. lovely photos. those zinnias are gorgeous! andi love hollyhocks. i should have some blooming next year. they seem pretty easy to grow, lucky for me :)

  15. I hope you're feeling better today, Rose. Try a little fennel tea if you have any seeds to steep. Being sick in the summer is no picnic. I love your version of the PP&M classic, and I share your affection for those zinnias. I've not had much luck with them here. I guess they just can't take this much heat. Neither can I, apparently. I'm back inside for a break after a weeding session at home. It's dripping hot out there!

  16. So sorry about you getting the bug and now daughter having it. Get well soon both of you...

    Also sorry to hear your seeds were all washed away. On the bright side, maybe they are blooming on the roadside somewhere while making some passerbys smile each day...

    I scattered Zennia seeds and they never popped up. I am convinced I must do more for the seeds I plant. I wanted Zennia so badly this year, that I picked up a small pot of them and planted them in the Wishing Well Garden. I have a pretty pinky blooming for me now.

    I also planted Hollyhock seed for the second year in a row with no luck. I may resort to a pot of them next year as well...

  17. I hope you're feeling better now, Rose. As for the zinnias, they don't do well for me (not enough heat, I think) while Hollyhocks grow where I don't plant them, and won't where I do plant them. And are never yellow. I want a yellow hollyhock, but even those I plant from seeds or buy as yellow hollyhocks or pink and white or maroon...sigh. So I'll join you in lamenting.

  18. I love your pink hollyhocks. I found that they are short-lived in my garden as well but I still try to grow these tall beauties.

  19. I hope you and your daughter are feeling much better today Rose.

    The weather this season has been quite eventful and taken its toll - so sorry it took your zinnias. I hope next season is kinder to the zinnias, and the hollyhocks too.

  20. How horrible – stomach bugs are the worst! I hope you are feeling better now. I love that song and your variation was fun. Lucky you to see them live.

  21. I thought I was the only one who couldn't grow Zinnias. I sowed seed for 2 different kinds. I have 2 plants. One has a bud, the other is so tiny, I almost missed it. Sad, that is. I hope you all get well soon.

  22. My Zinnias other than the profusions I planted in a pot didn't do well this year. :)

  23. So sorry you are not feeling well, Rose. The flowers may have faded away but your sense of humor is as colorful as ever. Get well soon!

  24. Rose I enjoyed humming the song this a.m. and looking at your images of Hollyhocks and zinnias.It has been an unusual summer with all Spring and Summer flowers blossoming at the same time,lack of rain has caused several very weak plants to be attacked by pests..but overall My own garden has flourished like never before! Perhaps they were giving me their last farewell as I will Not be seeing them next summer.I do look forward to exploring the woodland gardens!
    a gal living her dream..anna

  25. Sorry to hear about your zinnias and hollyhocks. I grew hollyhocks for the first time last year (or was it the year before?). I really loved them except they had a horrible case of rust. I heard that's quite common for them. Have you ever been able to grow them without the rust problem? If so, what was the trick?

  26. Zinnias grow here too but they easily get infested, so i dont like to plant them. I did not know that hollyhocks look like hibiscus or maybe okra. Maybe they are of the same family, okay i will check that. I just read hollyhocks but just saw their flowers now, beautiful. If they are family with okra and hibiscus, then maybe they will also grow in the tropics.


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