Blog Header

Blog Header

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My top garden plants - Hydrangeas

In the early days of this blog I wrote a series about my Top Garden Plants - my favourite plants that have both visual interest, plus at least one other use, whether culinary i.e. herbs, or are of benefit to wildlife in some way (which also is the case of the herbs I featured). Most of these plants are really easy care plants too.

So I have ummed and ahhed as to whether Hydrangeas fit the bill, as they are neither really easy plants nor edible! However, having looked back through all my photos, I feel that the incredibly long season of interest - up to nine months - plus the fact that I found quite a few interesting bugs on them, and spiders especially seemed to like spinning webs on them, that they could join this series. 

When we first moved to Brittany I saw Hydrangeas everywhere in all shades of blue, purple and pink so went straight out and bought a blue one, only to find that it bloomed purple on my neutral soil. I had originally though the soil here would be acid so was surprised after doing a test to find it pH7. I was also given a pink Hydrangea, but pink ones stay pink no matter what soil type you have, whereas the blue ones need acid soil to bloom blue, unless you amend the soil with something like sequestered iron. In alkaline soil a blue Hydrangea will have pink blooms.

I also originally mistakenly planted them in the coldest part of the garden so they never grew very well and didn't have many flowers, so some years back we dug them up and replanted them up against the house wall in a north west facing position, which is quite shady until mid afternoon in high summer. Even so,  some years they have suffered from late frost and my pink Hydrangea didn't have a single flower in 2011!

Last year however, they both grew enormously and had more flowers than I've ever seen on them. The blue one, after a couple of initial purple flowers, turned a beautiful blue colour which I can only put down to the Hydrangea fertiliser that I had bought, which must have had extra minerals or some kind of colouring agent in it.

Some of these photos I have already shared here and there on this blog, but am posting them again as some are my favourite photos and I'd like to put them all together. 

The pink one is a Mophead variety (Hydrangea macrophylla), and the blue one is a Lacecap variety (Hydrangea macrophylla normalis).

The very first flowers on the pink Hydrangea in June,
with blue Campanula poscharskyana in the background

A little hoverfly flies over an unopened flower head

Late June. The blue one is on the left and has grown to a reasonable size;
the pink one far right is smaller as it is in a slightly less sheltered position.
I forgot to prune that rose last year which explains all the flowers so high up!

July and the first flowers opened up looking quite purply, although
the buds were blue. This is a little Froghopper sitting on the petal.

The fresh blooms on the pink variety open with an attractive white colour
at the heart of the flower, then gradually become darker pink

Early August and the blue variety suddenly turned a beautiful blue!

I captured a spiderling on the edge of a petal doing an octopus impersonation!

And here it had obviously watched Monty Python's 'Ministry of Silly Walks'

At the same time the pink variety was looking glorious,
and still had flowers yet to open, extending the season even more

By late September the blue variety's flowers were fading to
a pretty pinky/blue/grey colour.
I have actually captured many spiders and webs on the Hydrangeas.

Mid October and the pink variety was fading but still beautiful.
This Cricket seemed to take on the exact same pinky beige hues.... or was it a reflection?

My favourite photo.
Here are dewdrops caught in a spider's web reflecting the fading pink petals all around

Early November and the pink Hydrangea had a mix of skeletonised
petals yet some still looking quite fresh and pink.
Here's a raindrop reflecting some blue sky and sunshine.

Throughout the winter the skeletonised petals of the flowers have looked sad and soggy, but as soon as we had some dry weather, they perked up and still look very attractive. I leave them on the plants as long as possible as they help to protect the emerging fresh leaves from late frost.

Early March - how much more pretty can you get?
Yes, I really love my Hydrangeas.

P.S. I've noticed in the last 8 or so postings an enormous amount of Google +1s on my posts (as many as 20 or 30 on some posts) which previously I hadn't had more than a sprinkling of in over a year of posting on this blog. I have no idea why or how this is suddenly happening, but I'd like to thank you all very much, even though I have no idea who 99% of you are. :-)


  1. That dewdrops photo is beautiful!


    1. Thank you Philippa! It was the first droplet photo I took and I haven't managed to get one anywhere near as good as that since. I think this one was a fluke! I have fun trying anyway. :-)