Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Garden Update: Hydrangea

Who doesn't love hydrangeas? They are my favorite staple in the garden and I have quite a few considering the size of my garden. I love them because the blooms are so varied and linger through the summer and best of all, they remind me of my Nanas.

I have two white hydrangea bushes (I think they are referred to as "smooth" hydrangeas). My late neighbor Jeanette gave me a cutting from her garden and I never look at the bushes without thinking of her and how we used to chat when we would weed at the same time. Often we would be kneeling by her hydrangea bush when we would hear the children next door giggling and laughing as they played in their baby pool. Jeanette called this "good music to weed by."
The flowers of this bush are very large and heavy. Years ago I learned to loosely wrap the base of the bush with wire fencing, not unlike a vase, for extra support during storms. In spring the fencing is hidden by the lush foliage and blooms.
I love the lace caped hydrangea, it looks sugar sprinkled, a confection for the eyes. My bush has flowers of pink, blue and purple. They sprinkle their colors on the ground and make that part of the garden magical. In the fall the leaves of this bush turn a pretty red for added color.

Then there are the traditional big leaf varieties. I am fortunate to have three of these and one is truly special: a multi-generational hydrangea. My paternal grandmother, Nana Elsie, had two hydrangeas: one in the front yard and one in the back. As a child, I loved the flowers and they made wonderful home bases when we played tag.
My maternal grandmother, Nana Betty admired them greatly, especially the bush that bore flowers of both pink and blue (in one bush). When Nana Betty received a cutting she grew her bush on the front corner of her home. She had the tiniest city garden you could imagine, even smaller than mine and it was amazing what and how she grew things. When I began to garden, she gave me a cutting of that bush. I guess that makes it a three Nana (so far) bush. Someday I hope to be able to give my grandkids a cutting when they begin to garden.

Another passalong plant is my oak leaf hydrangea that I received from my dear friend Molly. Molly was and is my gardening mentor. She brought the cutting along when she visited us a few years ago. The bush is now bigger than me and just starting to bloom. The leaves of this turn a bright red in the fall and remain on the branches through most of the winter, giving the garden some much needed color.

I have one more hydrangea bush called "The Swan" but it is just beginning to bud up now. We call the Swan the "motherload" because the flowers are so huge. There is also a peegee hydrangea tree in my front yard which I love because it reminds me of my Aunt Carole. The tree blooms in mid summer. More on these babies as they develop!

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