What is the name of the story in which the following happens?

Aliens make contact and humans are awestruck/fearful/excited, but as they get to know the them, the aliens turn out to be annoying and boorish. The aliens flatly declare the hollyhock is the most beautiful flower--no ifs, ands, or buts, and demonstrate their technical prowess by greening the Sahara...with hollyhocks. (Maybe they green the Sahara first--with hollyhocks--and explain why hollyhocks with the declaration of their ultimate beauty.)

In the end, humans make use of the aliens' advanced technology to travel to other planets in order to escape the vapid aliens who have now settled on earth.

I read this story in the 1980s or so, but it may be from much earlier.

  • 2
    ...I have to admit, that's an interesting approach to colonization and conquest. Just move in "peacefully" and then gentrify the entire area until the original inhabitants -- at least, those who can afford to -- move elsewhere.
    – Shadur
    Dec 21 '20 at 10:10
  • 2
    Shouldn't it be no ifs, ands, or buds? Dec 22 '20 at 4:23

That's "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything" by George Alec Effinger.

So we thanked the nuhp for a Namibia full of hollyhocks...

It ends

All through the galaxy, the nuhp are considered the messengers of peace...But if the nuhp started moving in down the block, we'd be packed and on our way somewhere else by morning.

  • 1
    thanks very much!
    – Schneb
    Dec 20 '20 at 23:46
  • @Schneb You're welcome! Funny story. Dec 20 '20 at 23:47
  • Oddly, though - Namibia is nowhere near the Sahara, it's on the other end of Africa. Namibia has its own unconnected desert, the Namib. Was this author error? Or did the OP just misremember that detail? Dec 21 '20 at 15:25
  • 3
    @DarrelHoffman it actually says that "we..stopped them before they did the same thing to the Sahara, the Mojave, and the Gobi." Dec 21 '20 at 15:28
  • Maybe the mistake is mine? In saying they 'greened the Sahara' did I remember the wrong desert?
    – Schneb
    Dec 22 '20 at 18:00

This is "The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything" by George Alec Effinger

He brought back some wonderful slides: the vast desert had been turned into a botanical miracle. There were miles and miles of flowering plants now, instead of the monotonous dead sand and gravel sea. Of course, the immense garden contained nothing but hollyhocks, many millions of hollyhocks. I mentioned to Pleen that the people of Earth had been hoping for a little more in the way of variety, and something just a trifle more practical, too.

“What do you mean, ‘practical?'" he asked.

“You know," I said, “food."

“Don’t worry about food," said Pleen. “We're going to take care of hunger pretty soon.”

“Good, good. But hollyhocks?"

“What’s wrong with hollyhocks?"

“Nothing," I admitted.

“Hollyhocks are the single prettiest flower grown on Earth."

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