I first noticed it just outside the back door of the greenhouse. awesome flowers arranged on a stalk that had its leaves shot out around it in a circle pattern. Finally got around to identifying it, Lavatera, or "tree mallow". And as it turns out I am not the only one who finds it stunning, it is a butterfly favorite! We went and saved some seed from the one that is done already.
Here is a shot I took of one of ours
Yeah, they really do have beautiful flowers. However, they also have a nasty friend, at least where I am. Harlequin bugs (and other stink bug types) are very attracted to this plant, and it seems to be linked with there breeding cycle by what I researched. Keep an eye out for them, as last year I had devastating numbers of the little buggers. They tend to start on the mellow and then move to all your other crops, especially currants. Another potentially interesting feature of mallow is it seems to have some sort of allelopathic effect on grass. Wherever I (also admiring of the plants beauty) have left it to grow, grass tends to die back and avoid the area.
Things to also note about this plant, it seems to be a great plant for rejuvenating areas that have had high application of duck (perhaps chicken) manure. It grows abundantly in a duck enclosure that I used to have well populated (am now down to 2 ducks, both of which are 10+ years old) and seems to improve the soil conditions for other weed species to follow.
Best thing for fruit tree zones to beat down invasive grass species - Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum), awesome no maintenance high yielding weed suppressing ground cover with edible leaves and flowers. Plant seeds once, and you'll never have to plant again. Best thing about them is that they're easy to weed out the excess, and the sprawling way they grow tends to leave soil cool and friable. Plant the edges of your invasive grass species with things like comfrey, rhubarb, lemon grass (if you have the climate for it), and horse radish, and problem will basically be solved.
James Slaughter wrote: Harlequin bugs (and other stink bug types) are very attracted to this plant, and it seems to be linked with there breeding cycle by what I researched.
That's interesting. If they like the mallow in preference to other things then the mallow could be 'used' as an attractant control plant and one could trap them before they move out. Otherwise I guess they go straight for the currants (or broccoli in my case). We don't have that super pretty one growing here as a weed, just the low growing, insignificant little pink one and that certainly doesn't have any draw for the little bugs. Maybe I'll pay that high price and buy some seeds of your lovely weed (I used to grow it as an ornamental in Scotland).