Variegated Mallow (Malva)
I grow variegated Mallows for their foliage as well as their small lilac flowers. I discovered Kings Seeds seed catalogue in 1998 and among my first order was a packet of these seeds.
I instantly thought I'd like them, but I had no idea how well they would grow. And so I duly planted six out in the Wattle Woods garden and then forgot about them.
variegated mallow - weed or plant?
Towards the end of that first summer I noticed that they were almost as tall as me, and my close planting had given them a hedge-like form. I built the little path to wind behind them, and congratulated myself on my unique if unusual good taste.
Then I attempted to show off my variegated mallows to Stephen. He (a practical botanically minded man) was not impressed. They were weeds, he stated, and why on earth was I interested in cultivating them? The variegations, rich cream with mid-green, did not impress him either - "scruffy leaves" he said dismissively.
I can lose gardening confidence rather easily, so it is with some nervousness that I adnit to still growing these "scruffy weeds". After they flower sometimes I prune them heavily, and replace them with new plants after two or three years. Seedlings are appearing everywhere, and luckily they're variegated too. But - really importantly - there aren't too many of them...
Variegated Mallow with Pink Rhododendron
2009 Update on Variegated Mallows
It's now the summer of 2009 and my variegated mallows have become quite a feature in the Wattle Woods, the site of those initial plantings all those years ago. Enough self-sown seedlings always appear for the following year's stock. And they do all this in reasonably poor, dry soil. Yippee!
Variegated Mallow Leaf