Amsterdam’s Surprising Towers of Flowers



Lately as I walk around the ‘Dam doing my usual errands I’m beyond impressed with all the hollyhocks I see everywhere in full bloom. I mean, they’re everywhere. As a gardener who has tried (and failed) to grow hollyhocks in my own garden back in the US, I’m intrigued at how the Dutchies get these very tall and very heavy flowers to grow in front of their homes without the aid of stakes in the city. Yes, I’m jealous.


On my daily treks I find myself veering out of the way of the towering bunches of reds, yellows, pinks and whites that hang over my head and lean into me on the paths of the sidewalks. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, that such tall plants flourish here with all the rain. Hollyhocks don’t like dry soil. And of course, these magnificent flowering plants, some up to nine feet tall, are right at home with the tallest people on earth.



But, really, how do the Dutchies do it? I know you can plant them from seed and sometimes have to wait at least two years to get flowers, but I’m tempted to knock on doors and ask my questions. What is the secret to growing these plants? Is there a hollyhock garden expert that goes around the city and plants these everywhere? What are you feeding these? Where can I get some?



It’s not the lavender fields or even the sunflowers in the south of France, but one can’t help but be impressed by hollyhocks in abundance throughout the ‘Dam in bloom right now. I wonder how I can bring them back to my hollyhockless garden. Perhaps a trip to the flower market at Koningsplein is in order. For now, I’ll continue to marvel at these towers of flowers while they last.