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Updated: May 7, 2020

Decades ago when driving through Sparta Georgia I stopped at small weathered house to compliment a little old lady who was sitting on her porch. Her garden was precious. It looked as if she had thrown thousands of seeds off the porch and they had artfully landed within the confines of the organically shaped rock “parterres” in front of her. The walkways were impeccably swept with her handmade gall berry twig broom. Her islands of flora were awe inspiring to this young landscape architecture student. So many old varieties of flowers brought back memories of gardens past. As I hugged her neck and prepared to tear way to the realities of my destination, she said, “stop, wait, Ill be right back, as she stepped into her house. Seconds later she returned with an old, dog-eared Georgia Power envelope. It was filled with flat, brown papery seeds. Written on the envelope on pencil was “holyhoc seed Miss Lena’s Place.” I was gifted seeds of the most amazing black hollyhocks. For decades I have cherished and saved these seeds from year to year. For so many years they have been the star of my little garden in front of Oakleaf in Highlands. And if someone slows down long enough, I tell the story of “Miss Lena’s holyhocs,” Sparta and why stopping to pay a compliment is always a good thing to do.

Beginning May 15, I will have Miss Lena’s hollyhock plants for sale at Oakleaf Highlands -limited supply. As well you will see our heirloom tool collection, featuring the fun to use “widget” I use every year to prick out seedlings and later in the season, to weed.

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