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Friday, July 27, 2012

Hydrangeas - A Favorite Summer Flower

A vase full of favorite hydrangeas from
the garden...  On a tablecloth covered
with hydrangeas.  Hydrangea overload?
Hydrangeas must be one of the loveliest and most satisfying flowers of summer.  With their color ranging from pure white to deep, dark purple, they are the shade-loving constant in many cottage gardens - our own included.

Of all the flowers we love, hydrangeas are among the easiest to grow.  In fact, those delightful pots of bright blooms available at the florist are easily, and almost always successfully transplanted

I first noticed hydrangeas when I was small.  One of the highlights of hot summer evenings in Corvallis, Oregon (a decidedly small town), was a rare visit to the miniature golf course just outside of town.  Although diminished in the reality of adulthood, as a kid it was a quite the place.  Surrounded by trees and lit by tiny, colored lights, the Put Put Center included a tall, white windmill and countless other golfing challenges.  Sadly, I was never particularly adept on the Astroturf greens, but that didn't stop me from pretending to be the Arnold Palmer of Highway 99.  The chance to choose from the seemingly endless variety of colored golf balls was exciting enough, let alone finding just the right junior-sized golf club.  (Keep reading, we're getting to the hydrangeas...)  But, most memorably, in the breezeway between the "pro-shop" (are there "pro" mini-golfers?) and the gateway to golfing immortality stood three of the largest, lushest blue hydrangeas ever seen.  The color was just what you'd expect when imagining the flower - a deep, not too dark, not too light cerulean... "Hydrangea blue".  I remember thinking that they were the loveliest flowers ever...  Huge mopheaded clusters of tiny, perfect blue flowers amid large, vibrantly green leaves.  I always feel a slight lift when I see big hydrangea bushes in dappled sunlight.

Hydrangeas also bring to mind the royal wedding of 1981.  Although it ended badly, many will remember just how exciting the days before, let alone the day of, the wedding were.  There, amid all of the famous guests (the giant king of Tonga in his specially provided chair and a half, Nancy Reagan dressed as an early-80's gangsters moll...) was Queen Elizabeth II in a ensemble of hydrangea blue silk crepe and matching hat trimmed in, what else, hydrangeas!

Next time you are contemplating what to plant in that shady side yard or, perhaps, under a canopy of tall, leafy trees, go back to the basics and pick out a few old-fashioned, perfectly reliable, delightfully charming hydrangeas!

Look at this enormous range of color!

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