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I have clay soil and mine came up beautifully. I have collected the seeds - one pod renders up loads - and will be sowing them then overwintering them in an unheated greenhouse. I did this last year with penstemmons and they are now about 5 cm and very thick and healthy. I'm going to try my astilbe...might not work but it doesn't cost anything and takes no time at all. Just think of the nice surprises that might spring from this!
Hollyhocks are one of my favorites, and I much prefer the single flowers. It took me years to establish them, and I think it was because I have only recently started to feed my London clay soil with compost and mulch. Everything grows better now!
You might enjoy my photos: I tried to do the link below with a simple link, but it didn't work.....anyone know why?
Photos of Red Hollyhocks and Simple Photoshop Tips http://gloriousconfusion.hubpages.com/hub/red-hollyhocks