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The Art of Hollyhock Dolls

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Older Bluegrass gardens often have lots of old-fashion, stately hollyhocks. This prolific plant is great at reseeding all around the garden. Hollyhocks are hardy in the Bluegrass’ zone 6 gardens and they are easy to grow.

Many older gardeners, those who were sent outside to play as a child, you may remember making dolls out of hollyhock flowers. If hollyhocks are abundant in your garden why not introduce a child to the joys of gardening and playing outdoors by teaching them how to make hollyhock dolls. The directions follow:

• Choose some hollyhock flowers of various colors in various stages of opening. You will need some buds for heads and some half opened flowers for bodies and fully opened flowers for skirts.
• Find straight thin sticks for connecting the flowers.
• Start by choosing heads for the dolls. Round hollyhock buds, with just a bit of color showing work well. If you have a marker or pen, you can draw a face on the head.
• Using the half opened buds that will form the middle of the doll and one or more pretty fully opened flowers for the skirt, make sure to leave the green sepal leaves on the back of each flower. They keep the flower together and are tough enough to hold the fasteners securely. Single flowered, not double flowered hollyhocks, make the best doll parts.
• Stick a head on a stick and then through a torso flower, and finally through the skirt flowers. One or more layers of open flowers for the skirts in layers of different colors makes a pretty effect.
• The open skirt flowers will generally hold the dolls upright, especially if a few layers of flowers are used. After children get the hang of it, they can let their imaginations roam, combining colors, layering flowers, making arms and legs out of sticks and hats for the heads from single petals or other flowers. Next they can imagine scenarios like weddings and fancy parties to enjoy playing with the dolls.

Unfortunately there is no good way to preserve the dolls, but hollyhocks bloom abundantly through the summer so there are always more flowers for more dolls. You may want to supervise children as they collect flowers, so that plants are not hurt.

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