Traditionally associated with cottage-style borders, Hollyhocks are a mysterious and prolific flower with a long and rich history. This sun to partial shade loving Asian native is an adaptation of an old cottage garden favourite. The dramatic, near-black flowers of Nigra work equally well in a contemporary, minimalist garden. The tall strong stems bearing dark maroon flowers are almost black on overcast days but will have a hint of red in the bright sun. The flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and bees. Plant in moist but well drained soil. The plants need plenty of room, space them 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) apart. Because of their height, they are best planted at the back of the border.