1 I've got the Hydrangea Blues

I promised a walk around my hydrangeas, so let’s set off… Under the oaks on Oak Avenue, near my stone cottage, there are many mopheads in shades of blue.

2 Pick a shade

Because of my acid soil, blues are particularly good and I have shades from pale through powder to rich dark blue. A particular favourite is almost turquoise, an amazing colour in a plant. Those with a mauvish tinge would be pinker, even pure pink in alkaline soil.

3 Growing in shade 

After last week’s sunny hydrangeas, let me stress that these are planted under a dense but high canopy of pin oaks and gnarled Ouhout  trees, with little direct sun ever reaching them except in the early morning. 

4 White hydrangeas at the bridge

There are several areas in the garden where hydrangeas play an important role, and we will stop to look at a few of them. The white hydrangeas across Freddy’s Dam were picked to show right until the last light and to reflect in the water. It is time I clear a little under the flowering cherries and lift the canopy, for the depth of white in under the trees is all but lost. On the other hand I love the denseness when you cross the bridge and climb up the sheltered path where foliage meets overhead…

5 White hydrangeas and schizostylis coccinea

Here they are again, seen from the bridge today, the ripples caused by Taubie dog taking a swim in the heat. In the foreground are several shades of Schizostylis coccinea, which is usually scarlet as the name implies. The scarlet species form grows wild on the farm, but these were planted.

6 Shades of white

The white can be absolutely pure, but it is never so for long. The immature blooms are greenish, as they mature they often get a blue cast, and as they are splattered with rain and start to age, first pink and then wonderfully rich wine-red and blue metallic colourations (that’s the only word for them!) appear. The pinking has started on some of the older and more exposed blooms in the previous photograph, and the masthead shows you what they look like by late April, 3 months hence.

7 Hydrangea glade 1

One of the most satisfying gardening afternoons I’ve ever had was after a particularly frustrating day at school. I went home and instead of marking, threw two massive axes out into the garden. I had thought about it for long, but the sheer scale of the planning was exhilarating. The first follows the contour from below the Rosemary Borders and in the opposite direction towards the beech above the Beech Borders. The second runs perpendicular to it from the beech across the contour, through the Beech Borders, across the lily pond and then cuts through a stand of young poplars on the opposite slope, across a sweep of blue hydrangeas and onto an Acer saccharinum and beyond across the arboritum to the conifer planted by my mother at the official planting of the arboritum on my birthday in 1988. So many serendipitous placings came together on that day, some of which I had planned over years, others which were pure chance.

8 Hydrangea glade 2

It took several years after old Frans planted the hydrangeas for them to make a show, and there was plenty of weeding to be done in the early days, but he kept at it, and for the past two years these hydrangeas have been of my favourite incidents in the garden.

9 Hydrangea Glade 3

Here they are again, this time from the other side, where one comes upon them suddenly in their gap among the poplars…

10 Detail from vista 

Here they are again, for I couldn’t resist including this photograph, taken this afternoon. And now, although we are not yet halfway through the walk, I think it is time to take a rest, and to continue our explorations later…

PS: This is my first post written using Windows Live Writer – thanks to our great guru and friend from Blotanical,  Jean from Jean’s Garden. The only problem was loading what was a rather large file through my iffy internet, more than made up for by the slickness of composing without the irritation of uploading. And I love being able to chose my font, the borders and the watermark. Now it is only the narrowness of the blog which irritates me – but try looking at it at 125% magnification!



14 thoughts on “HOORAH FOR HYDRANGEAS part 1

  1. Beautiful post! I agree hoorah for hydrangeas. I would like to try an oakleaf hydrangea in my garden. I’m not so sure it will do well or not…..?

  2. Jack, I love hydrangeas, and your blues are especially wonderful. (Alas, the blue hydrangeas aren’t reliably hardy here. Because they bloom on old wood, the typical experience is lots of foliage (on new wood) but few if any blooms. So thanks for sharing yours.

    BTW, regarding the time it takes to upload photos with your iffy internet connection, you might be able to use your photo processing software to save your images down in a smaller size (fewer pixels). They’ll still look fine on the screen, but will be easier to upload.

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