The title of this post comes from my saying back when I worked in retail gardening. The entire saying was “if I had a nickel for every hydrangea question, I could retire now and live comfortably the rest of my life.”
And that’s still true. No matter what I am lecturing on, I get hydrangea questions. It’s our #1 problem here in the “frozen north” as I speak of Connecticut and it’s made worse by the fact that so many of us vacation on Cape Cod, which is wrapping up its own hydrangea festival about now. We come back from our Cape vacations with serious hydrangea envy.
And what do we come back to? Most of us have at least one version of this is our yards.
This is known as the hydrangea that blooms on “old wood. This one looks pretty good, actually. There’s a bud near the top–most of us only have buds or blooms concentrated in a ring around the bottom where the snow protected last year’s buds. All the other buds were killed off by the harsh winter.
The hydrangea in the photo at the top of the post is a “newer” variety, one that blooms on old and new wood so that even if winter kills all our buds, the new growth will still bud and bloom. You have probably heard of Endless Summer–that’s the one in the top photo. It has proven fairly easy care and fool-proof for me, but again, at lectures, I am hearing reports of it failing to bloom as well.
I figure anything that blooms in my heavy clay, on rock ledge, that stays soggy well into the spring and may or may not get eaten by deer, voles or rabbits as it’s trying to come back–and still blooms–is pretty darn foolproof. And mine is blooming again as I post this.
I should have started asking for nickels way back, though.
When I was a kid, there were two kinds of hydrangeas; white and non white. White was always white. Non white was usually pink because of the slightly alkaline soil, but could be made to bloom blue. There are now too many cultivars to keep track of, and some bloom their intended color with less influence form the pH. Those that are supposed to be blue might be purplish, but are still somewhat blue nonetheless.