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Hydrangea Dilemma

Posted Aug 17 2009 10:38pm

Wow, can we grow hydrangeas. They are one of the few things which continue to thrive in the garden despite the neglect. They're all pink mopheads, and I've noticed that these have been getting a bad press around gardening blogs recently. But I love them.

Yes it's true that they can start to look tatty when the colours start to fade, and the pink becomes a dirty cream colour, like the ones below. And if, like mine, the dead growth hasn't been cut away for two years, they look even tattier, with dry brown heads everywhere. But I love them just for those weeks when they are an enormous mass of pink flowers ...

They're also nice used as cut flowers for the house - they'll last for a week or so in water ...

We have three in the garden, two at the back and one at the front. They must have been there for at least thirty years by now. When Dad was alive he would turn them blue - not difficult here as we have a naturally acidic soil - but they've long reverted.

Over the past week I've been tidying them up a bit. I've got rid of the blackberry bramble that was growing all over the one below, and cut away the dead heads and stems. With the result that they now look a bit battered. But they'll bounce back.

I've also taken cuttings. I put them into a propagator the first day I was here, and they've now rooted. One at least will go home with me to the balcony, but I'm not sure what to do with the others. The idea was to plant them in the beds which are currently being taken over by grass and borage, hoping that they'll survive the winter (please, please let it be mild) despite the fact that they'll not have had long to establish themselves. Perhaps if I mulch well ...

In particular I thought of establishing a hydrangea hedge in the bed that separates my garden from my neighbours, plus a couple out back. The dilemma is : what's better, a bare garden full of weeds or one that seems overrun by hydrangeas?

Planting a lot of other stuff is out of the question. The house is in such a state that it's draining the budget, and anyway there's just no point spending money on a garden which, quite likely, no-one is going to look at again till I come back. I have picked up a couple of special offers at our local DIY centre - 200 mixed daffodil bulbs for £10 and four bush roses for the same price. OK, it's not the ideal time for planting either - though I'm just within the limits for the daffs - but it's the only time I have.

So I suspect one of these days in the years to come you'll be reading a post which reads something like damn-hydrangeas-why-ever-did-I-plant so-many. Oh well...

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