I don’t actually remember when I fell in love with hydrangeas.
It was likely from a magazine picture years ago.
But the real romance began when I first visited Martha’s Vineyard.
The relationship was sealed on my last visit to Cape Cod.
Of course, they are blue in the sandy soil and salty air of the “Cape”.
Mine on the other hand live in an alkaline home and are pink for the most part turning to green in the fall.
To my way of thinking the Hydrangeas give you more flowers over the course of a growing season than any other plant.
I know – that’s a pretty bold statement.
But since I finally have the right home for them they have rewarded me beyond my wildest dreams.
It all depends on several things.
First you have to get the right kind of hydrangeas.
The old H. macrophylla are wonderful.
But in our climate where spring can come early and tease those precious buds along, only to be clobbered by a late freeze – they are risky at best!
So, I’ve become a big fan of a variety of H. macrophylla called Endless Summer.
They named it right.
About 5 years ago I planted them across the front of my house and also just inside the backyard gate.
I was patient – knowing it takes at least 3 years for them to hit their stride.
Then the pine tree that provided them shade for part of the day succumbed to pine needle blight.
They were left in total sunshine.
I panicked but had no place to move them.
So… I dripped water on them a little more than usual till they got established.
I treated them a bit like roses in that I put a ring of manure around them a couple of times each summer.
Then I would protect the crown for the winter with a big dose of in the fall.
They have rewarded me for my attention and bloomed well…endlessly!
Last summer they were simply breathtaking.
OK….that sounds like I’m bragging but the truth is I have had very little to do with it.
These guys know how to grow and bloom.
So…here’s the formula that’s worked for me.
Buy a reblooming variety – Endless Summer in the blue bucket is my favorite.
There is also a sibling of Endless Summer called Blushing Bride.
It’s white with a faint pink edge.
Site it well.
They do need some sunshine to really bloom well.
Morning sun and afternoon shade is perfect.
Use drip irrigation to soak it deeply.
Feed it manure.
Give them time to reach maturity and …..
Resist cutting them back until very late in the spring after every branch has had a chance to green up.
Mine are just beginning to bloom so I’ve included pictures from last year when they were in full glorious bloom.
Hydrangeas connect people.
Seven years ago when Elliott and Kristina married I didn’t have one hydrangea bush.
But my friend Martie did – all across the front of her house.
And she was generous enough to let the florist cut away.
Now she always remembers their anniversary reminding me just this week of that fun adventure.
So, once you have them going at your house I know you will want to spread the joy around and share.
Seriously, if you find room for 6 or 8 you’ll be cutting arm loads of blooms just like Martha does on TV!!!
Even one or two will give you dozens of blooms.
They do require a little bit of special treatment to insure the cut blooms last a long time.
When you go to the garden to cut take either a BBQ type lighter or a container of very hot water.
Cut flowers that are fully open and have been in bloom for a few days.
You can cut the stems long – all the way to the main branch – or short depending on your need.
Remove most of the foliage.
Make a slit in the bottom of the stem for an inch or so.
Then either dip the bottom of the stem in the hot water or singe it with the lighter for a few seconds.
Put them in a container of water up to their necks to condition for several hours or overnight.
Now…I know that sounds complicated but once you get the hang of it you’ll be glad you did because they will last for days or even a week or two.
I tested this last summer when I cut hydrangeas on a Wednesday and took them to Colorado for my nephew’s wedding.
Ten days later Kristina and I and her friends made them into arrangements for the big day.
These instructions come from a book my mother gave me in 1997.
It’s called “A Garden For Cutting” by Margaret Parke.
In the back it gives excellent instructions for cutting, conditioning or drying all every kind of fresh flowers.
If you want a cutting garden add this book to your library.
And…once you have them cut and conditioned…they practically arrange themselves.
Gardeners love to share their gardens.
To share plants – it’s called “pass along plants”.
And the bounty of our gardens.
But most of all I like having people come and visit my garden.
This week my neighbor Lish invited friends from out of town to come and see her garden as well as our friend and neighbor Sally’s garden and then mine.
Then we had lunch in the garden house.
Hope you have many hours in your garden.
If you don’t have one…visit a friends.