This may not look like much. But these are some amazing flowers. I’ve had these bushes for over 18 years in my yard here in Oregon City. They were actually transplanted from my yard at my house in Portland, so they are even older than that. My grandfather gave me the first bush. I knew little about the flower, except that they produce these huge, wonderfully colored cluster of buds. He knew I loved gardening and seeing what we could make bloom in Portland, where the weather isn’t always cooperative and predictable.
The second bush was a gift from the students I had while student teaching at Washington School for the Deaf in Vancouver, Washington. It was such sweet gesture. So when we decided to move out of Portland and have a house built, I knew I could not leave these plants there. They were too sentimental. We had to move out of our house before our house in Oregon City was completed and we stayed with my parents in Beavercreek for several months. I dug up those plants, planted them at my parent’s house, and then uprooted them again when we settled into our new home. These are hearty plants to have survived two major replantings!
Over the years I’ve experimented with changing the color of the buds by changing the alkaline of the soil. More pH means pinker flowers – use limestone for this result. Lower acidity with sulfur and they retain their bluer hues. The buds you see here are from the plant my grandpa bought me. They are a lighter purply blue. The other plant I have actually was kinda butchered by my dear husband. He means well, but simply does not know when to prune back plants. It’s true that hydrangeas are very hearty plants, but pruning needs to happen in late winter or early spring. He chopped them down after they had already started budding. Hydrangea actually bloom on the previous year’s growth.
And to be honest, there’s really no reason to prune hydrangeas. Unless you do not want large plants, the only thing you need to do is remove old blooms. What’s wonderful about the second plant, is that it produces flowers in both pinks and purpley-blues. There are several varieties of hydrangea. These are mopheads and grow best with sun and some afternoon shade. They also need a well drained soil – something we had to amend with all the clay soil on our property.