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Friday, July 22, 2011

Excess, Thy Name Art Hydrangea

Big Blues: Lacecap, 'Endless Summer'
Gardeners often can be likened to plants. You know, prickly people are like cacti, and solid, stately people stand like oaks. The analogies go on and on. Perhaps you’ve thought about this and have your own comparisons.

This time of year, another one comes to mind: A certain kind of gardener always makes me think of the mophead hydrangea, which is peaking in my garden.

What kind of gardener? Well, one like me. Excessive. Never buy one of anything, when several more can be had. Often, I see, I like, I buy – even if I don't have a clear idea, no, not even a clue, where I'll put the load of plants I just had to have.

This excess includes hydrangeas, of course. At last count, I was at about a dozen, including lacecaps, paniculatas and the severely dramatic mopheads. Most dramatic is the cultivar 'Endless Summer,' which lives up to its name; I've even seen it bloom in November, and when cut and put in water indoors, the blooms are so endless, their stems have rooted during winter months.

Like mopheads in general, this one has blooms with large, nodding heads that make you smile; they turn a brilliant blue, lighting up any shady spot. Amazing, this hydrangea is so excessive, I need only one; it grows on a slope in back of the herb garden, its intensity shouting to anyone within earshot.

As many hydrangea growers know, mopheads not only look dramatic, they also fill the air with drama, swooning when the sunlight and temperature rise, sending gardeners to the watering can and hose.

Years ago, I visited a gardener who, with a mixture of art, cleverness and practicality, fashioned umbrellas for his mopheads, raising the colorful swoon preventers at midday, then lowering them when heat subsided.

While I saluted his creativity, I'd never pamper my hydrangeas that much. And, while I admit to sharing the excessive nature of hydrangeas, I avoid falling down or out on hot afternoons. At least, so far.


  1. Hydrangeas are my favs....I'm pushing the clock to prune...Aug. 1st deadline is fastly approaching. Your mix of lace caps and mopheads are interesting...I put a lacecap at the end of my mopheads...only half of it bloomed...maybe I pruned it incorrectly..will try again this year...trial and error is my mantra!

  2. Heyyy, Bev, I understand on pushing the clock. And, I agree on trial and error. I make it easy on myself, not pruning my lacecaps or mopheads – except for size.

  3. Hey! I thought the lacecaps belonged to me. I'll take a lacecap over a mophead any day.

  4. Sorry, my wife who does not garden, but while I did buy, plant and nurture lacecaps for you, mopheads win the excess contest. I'll 'splain this to you offline.

  5. Lee, you're right about pruning just for size...my mopheads are about 8 yrs old and BIG, so I do need to trim back...and I also like to root some...I like to cut down the canes that are dead, so as the plant can breathe alittle. Of course, I deadhead and dry some of the flowers. Don't think I'll do anything to my lacecaps, except cut a few to root. My oakleaf is beautiful (from my Dad's old house), never prune it. Just planted one peegee, and three more oakleafs from Barnsley Gardens.

  6. Clearly, you love hydrangeas at least as much as I do, Bev. How nice that you have an oakleaf from your father's old house. What fine designer colors those oakleaf leaves turn.

    I love Barnsley Gardens. That damaged house in North Georgia tells more stories than a history book.

  7. I never thought about people being like the plants they have. Hmmm. I had an oakleaf hydrangea when I lived in Virginia. Loved it, particularly when it turned lovely colors in the fall. I'd like to try the endless summer.

  8. Comparing people to plants does intrigue.

    Do you, like the oakleaf hydrangea, turn to autumn colors and revive in the fall after a knock-down, drag-out Arizona summer?

    Fortunately, that Endless Summer hydrangea name is not literal; this summer just *feels* endless, yes?

  9. Wow, that blue color is gorgeous!! Just did a post on my blog about my Limelight Hydrangeas. I'm fond of the paniculatas myself.

  10. Hey, Lee, Interesting you have only a 'dozen' hydrangeas. In my opinion, you need at least two more. You should make them Annabelle. Talk about excess, big and cream.

    Your blue ones are pretty, though. All hydrangeas are the best. If they can survive the heat and drought, especially these last two summers.

  11. Mario -

    For sure, that Limelight is a winner. I bought two last year (one's not enough) and the late bloom and changing color light up spaces.

  12. Barbara -

    You're right, Barbara, I know I can find room for a couple of Annabelles.


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