At this time of year the cracks and gaps that make Hackney, East London, feel beautifully wild are host to some of my favourite flowers – hollyhocks. They seem to spring up overnight and then burst with colour and pollen for weeks on end.
This beauty in Arnold Circus, E1, is part of the Hollyhock circle that surrounds the children’s playground in the middle of the roundabout. The slopes of the island are quite steep so when you turn in from one of the side roads you are met with an audience of these gentle giants holding you in their yellow and pink gaze.
They seem particularly keen on Peabody Housing Estates! What a great colour – this one reminds me of a gramaphone, all that’s missing is the little white dog.
Hackney Council are doing a great job of planting trees, and giving us all a role in maintaining them by encouraging community watering. That sounds wrong, but hopefully you get the gist. Like foxes, magpies and other survivors in the urban jungle hollyhocks seem to love the places we hate – car parks, run down industrial units but they also turn up where people have been watering, hence this lovely railing, birch and hollyhock combination.
Hollyhocks! What a funny word, something I expect a magician to say as he pulls a rabbit out of a hat, or perhaps an old English insult, “O get away you tedious fool, blaggard, hollyhock!”