• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


It’s early spring here in Washington and I’m antsy for flowers.

The tulips and daffodils have tips peeking out on the sunny side of the house, but for now I must be content with memories.

Flowers create lasting memories.

 Were you ever teased that you liked butter when a dandelion was held under your chin or by your cheek so that a yellow glow appeared? If you haven’t played that old game be sure to try it with the first dandelions of spring.

Grandma Ames 'dandelion' vase

And surely you’ve made flower chains or crowns!

Children from the past made dolls with hollyhock flowers; they are simple, and no tools are necessary.  At one time these flower were found in almost every garden.

Perhaps your own grandmother (or other ancestors) grew hollyhocks. They are so common and so ancient that they have been found buried with a Neanderthal man. 

My mother taught me to make Hollyhock dolls, and says she learned it from her mother. I asked grandma who taught her how to make them.  She replied, "everyone knows how to make them - anyone could have [taught me]."

But that was a very long time ago . . .

So—perhaps  you have never made a hollyhock doll.
But ask your grandmother – maybe she did!

Some may wonder when it would be useful to know how to make a doll from flowers—trust me on this one.  It ranks next to dandelions and butter for charm, and dandelions are charming – right?

I think we’ve all blown dandelion seeds!

Children love hollyhock dolls, AND guys—listen carefully—it is a great way to impress and flirt with most girls.

Hollyhocks are a biennial, and reseed readily.

With even limited water, they grow flowering spikes 6-8 feet (or more) in height, and many in colors, sizes and varieties.

Hollyhocks grew near pioneer cabins and dugouts because they survive in poor soils with little care.
One of their common names is “alley orchid.”   They are also tolerant of frost and heat, and all parts of the plant are edible, as well as useful medicinally .

In the past, a bucket of water (carried from a stream or pumped by hand from a carefully primed well), had many uses. Water could be precious, with every drop doled out carefully.

After washing dishes, that water could be used to clean boots or scrub a floor. After water became so dirty it was 'almost mud,' then vegetables were watered, and lastly flowers—often hollyhocks.

To make dolls you need 2 kinds of blooms.

A fully open bloom for a 'skirt' - larger is better - after all we want a 'full' skirt – right ladies? (wink).
But if you want a more narrow skirt pick a bloom that isn’t opened as far - use your imagination.

Notice bud at top middle right

For the head or ‘bonnet’ use a smaller tighter bud.

Notice buds have 2 layers of green around the base of the flower just above the stem (see above photo). Peel away the greens, being careful to not damage the bud or deeper petal layers, and look for a small hole.

removing first green layer

 You may worry something could fall apart - don't worry so much - it won't—the layers pop right off (with only the guidance of a thumbnail).

Here is a close-up so you can see it coming apart

Remove the second layer of green, and hidden underneath, several indentations are visible at the base of the petals.

If you can’t see a little hole in the middle yet, that’s OK— use your fingernail to remove a tiny bit more of the white soft part in the very center of the flat 'base.’

Note indentations by base of petals - these will be eyes

Right in the middle, there will be a tiny little hole.

Position the stem of the 'skirt' to go into the 'head.’ If the stem is too long it may resist pushing into the hole. Shorten it a tiny bit to make it stiffer.

Skirt stem above is too long, Adjust as needed.
Shorter a little bit is stiffer. 

Gently push the stem of the 'skirt' into the small hole in the bud until they are pressed snugly together.

Never use dangerously pointed objects to poke holes or hold these together.
That is entirely unnecessary.

The sap from the plant acts like a seal.
This will also keep them fresh.
I have left these in the sun several hours and they were not wilted.

OHH! Look!

A dolly with eyes, a green collar, and a huge headdress!

 Sometimes we pinched off or added on other flower parts for aprons, bustles etc.

Curious oddities can give unique personalities.

See this bustle from leaves that haven't separated
Imagination is the key ingredient here.

That’s it!!
That’s all there is to it.

And no tools are needed.

Give it a try this summer.



  1. I try over and over to grow them and to no success !

  2. Your soil is too good. Throw some seed down out against the house on the gravel driveway. :)