During our languid Australian summer, hydrangeas are impossible to resist as they flaunt their old-fashioned charms. With immense billowy blossoms, fat as a Christmas pudding, they beguile us with a dazzling array of colours—frosty whites, heart breaking blues, vibrant pinks, rich lavender and rose—sometimes all blooming together on the same plant.
Stalwarts of Edwardian planting schemes, hydrangeas carry us back in memory to the gardens our grandmothers loved to cultivate. Despite their label today of being, ‘so Victorian,’ they still appear to delight us, particularly in country style, and cottage themed gardens.
Hydrangea macrophylla produce their amazing spread of colours, in relation to the acidity or alkalinity of the soil in which they are planted. In an acid soil with a pH of 5 or less, hydrangea blossoms are always blue.
As the soil climbs toward the alkaline end with a pH of 7 or more, the flowers turn to mauve, pink, or even a dark red. White flowering hydrangeas will always remain white, regardless of the soil pH. Though most gardeners cultivate hydrangea blooms or mop heads for their colour, the foliage can be quite impressive too when rich dark green leaves display their serrated edges.
Originally native to Japan, hydrangeas create decorative floral bouquets. Cut them early in the morning with secatures, and plunge the stems immediately into cold water. This will wash away the sticky white sap that could prevent clean water from being drawn up into the stems. You don’t want your flowers to droop unhappily, do you? Fill a Christmas vase with these beauties, change their water often, and enjoy them as they last to welcome in the new year.
It’s good to be blogging again after my Christmas/summer absence. This gave me the space where I could recharge my creative batteries, take many lovely photos, and find new topics and stories to share with you in the coming weeks. Thankfully I also found the idea for my next book that I’ll be writing during 2015. Nature always continues to inspire.