Sunday, October 31, 2010


Today is what I would call and "un-gardening" day. My own word, I guess, but I use it for when I un-do a garden. We planted a whole garden with hydrangeas a dozen years ago, maybe a little longer ago than that. They didn't bloom right away, but grew wonderfully and had become quite large.

This one, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blue Wave', is a recent acquisition, planted in another part of the garden, and it does bloom, though this photo was taken the first year and was quite blue, while this year's blooms were pink. It all depends on the pH of your soil. More acid means blue blooms.

This one, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Mariesii', apparently bloomed once, though I don't remember when. I know it bloomed because I have a photo of it. I don't think it has bloomed since.

This one, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Nikko Blue', is the only one that blooms. It blooms almost every year, though it is a much smaller bush, not more than 2 feet tall - some of the others were approaching 5 feet. Maybe because it is closer to the ground, the stems on this one aren't as likely to freeze. Because it blooms, it was spared the shovel this afternoon. I potted up pieces of several of the others that had made reasonable sized offshoots and will offer them for sale in the spring to people who live in places where they will bloom.
Non-bloom in hydrangeas is usually caused by winter damage to stems. Since hydrangeas bloom on last year's stems, if they winter kill you won't have any bloom. That was the problem here. So... the hydrangea bed is gone and has been replaced by a couple of gorgeous dogwoods and will be filled in with hostas in the spring.
I honestly hate 'unplanting' things, but I've learned to think of it sort of like rearranging the furniture. If things aren't working, just move them. If they really aren't working, get rid of them. Life is too short to live with plants that aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. There are just so many wonderful things waiting to take their place.

Now, the hydrangeas that I co-exist with better are those on which I don't really expect blooms. It's not that these can't or don't bloom, just that since they rarely do, you plant them for the leaves and don't worry about the rest. This first one is Hydrangea macrophylla 'Lemon Wave' which has green and white and yellow leaves, no 2 alike.

My other favorite macrophylla hydrangea is 'Wave Hill', a green a white variegated one.

But if you really want bloom, at least in any place where the stems will freeze over the winter, skip the macrophyllas and get and Annabelle. This is a large bush that I think I've probably written about before. The blooms are large and are great for dried arrangements all winter. They go from green to white and last for quite awhile. They grow in light shade - actually prefer it, and seem to be a bit tolerant of at least minor drought.
So my compost heap has a bunch of hydrangeas and I have a redone garden. Not bad for an afternoon's work.

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