Early this summer I attended a wonderful Master Gardener workshop on growing hydrangeas. The teacher, Carlyss, a very knowledgeable gardener who specializes in hydrangeas invited those of us who attended her class to tour her garden this July.
She grows nearly 250 hydrangeas on acres of garden surrounding her home. They grow under large old oak trees, and, in the absence of trees under umbrellas placed to protect them. She works to change some of them blue and leaves some of them pink. Some are small and some are huge! We started our tour walking along a garden path lined in hydrangeas and ending in a hydrangea covered bench.
While walking through the garden Carlyss gave us some pointers about pruning. Most hydrangeas bloom on last years wood so you don’t want to prune too late into the year. After bloom cut the flowers off only down a few sets of leaves…not too far, or you will be cutting off new years flowers! (there are some that can be cut anywhere and bloom on new wood, specifically Endless Summer, but these do tend to be a bit rangy and are not her favorites). Since using a chemical to turn the blooms blue didn’t work she is now using an acid mix compost to mulch which seems to work better and gives a deeper, richer pink even when it doesn’t work to turn blossoms blue!
Even on a plant that blooms on old wood you sometimes need to cut the plant way back when it looks like this and has too much bare branch between blooms. It won’t bloom the next summer, but after than it will and you’ll have a nice bushy plant again:
Caring for a garden this large and beautiful takes a tremendous amount of work but Carlyss clearly loves it. If its true, as researchers are saying today, that being in beautiful nature areas is good for your health, as well as your soul, after a morning in her garden everyone who came must be in very good health right now!
With the proper care and water hydrangeas do well in most parts of the country and very well here in Sonoma County, Calif. They are relatively pest free and along with a nice loam soil there are just a few things necessary to raise beautiful plants.
Note: If you are interested in the name of any particular plant in this post, please ask about it in comments and I will talk to Carylss and try to get the right name for you! (Count the photos from the top and tell us which one you would like identified)
Photographers note: These photos were taken at 11:00 on a bright sunny day which is very difficult lighting. In order to get the individual blooms I used a large diffuser to create a softening shade. Since this wasn’t possible in all areas, there is more contrast than I would like. If you are photographing a garden, try, if possible to do it in the very early morning, the very late afternoon or on a cloudy or foggy day!
Camera Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f2.8 lense and Tamron 10-24 wide angle lense.