Behind The Wall – July 2015

I am often asked by visitors to the garden during the months of July and August whether I like Hollyhocks. Like is not nearly a strong enough word.  The Hollyhock is far and away the most important plant to the fabric of the garden, especially the walled garden at Charleston. By accident and design, a wonderful community of tones and colours have emerged during the last thirty years.

Where such a varied community have come from remains somewhat a mystery, but can it be a complete coincidence that an equally varied collection of single flowered Hollyhocks also line the long pathway as one approaches Berwick church? There is hardly a single one of the many letters that Vanessa Bell wrote in which she describes the summer garden, where the Hollyhock is not mentioned, and it appears often in her paintings of the garden.

Pink and white Alcea. Hollyhocks

It reigns supreme at the moment, carrying its varied colours high above ones head, providing a strong element of elevated structure, complementing other more rounded elements. Then we come to its importance to bees, especially the bumble bee. All the Hollyhocks in the garden are of the single flowered variety, making themselves far more accessible for bees to access the abundant pollen. I have noticed that with the wind battering the garden in recent days, it has not been unusual to see the odd bumble bee clinging to the centre of  the large open flowers as the tall stems flail about. Food and sanctuary. No other plant in the summer garden offers such an agreeable haven.

What's on

27 Oct
Experimental Drawing with Sarah Colbourne

Experimentation has always been at the heart of creativity at Charleston.  

10 NovFilm
Difficult Love | Zanele Muholi

Film and panel discussion Difficult Love, co-directed by photographer and activist Zanele Muholi, is a compelling More

17 NovTalk
Transgressive Identities

Join curator of the Museum of Transology, E-J Scott, dress historian Dr Jane Hattrick and trans Muslim dandy Sabah Choudrey

08 Dec
Gin and Jazz Party

Join us for an enchanted evening of swing jazz, dancing and cocktails. With live music from the Swing Ninjas.


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