By Marianne Binetti
I’ve gone hydrangea crazy, and some of mine even are orange! If you give your hydrangeas lime or super phosphate, they turn pink. Spread aluminum sulfate around the roots, and they turn blue, but mulch with orange peels, and your hydrangeas might turn bright orange.
Just kidding! Actually I used orange spray paint to preserve two cut hydrangea blossoms—just to be a rebel.
The lesson here is to go crazy with the abundance of hydrangeas blooming this summer and get creative with the cut flowers. The new Endless Summer hydrangeas produce more flowers the more often you harvest the blooms. This is why I keep a basket hanging near my front door filled with cut hydrangeas. Inside the basket are three plastic water bottles holding the flowers’ long stems. The cut blooms last for weeks on my shaded porch.
I also have a secret garden I call my hydrangea room, blooming with color in summer but out of sight when these shrubs are leafless in winter. Evergreens that support purple clematis flank the entry. Once inside you see an old wheelbarrow I spray-painted first white, then shades of blue.
This works as a backdrop for a small potted hydrangea with purple-tip petals. I plant all types of hydrangeas in the raised beds that surround the wood chip floor of this enclosed room. (Growing tip: I made raised beds by piling up garden debris and grass clippings.) Hydrangeas love soil rich in organic matter. Tall evergreens provide the filtered shade that hydrangeas prefer.
The back wall of my hydrangea room displays an old wooden door. And, because I’ve heard hydrangeas are called “Grandma Flowers,” I thought a door from my grandmother’s shed would be a nice touch.
But these aren’t your grandmother’s hydrangeas—there are so many new varieties now. They all look great with vintage and repurposed objects—even if you don’t like them orange. Keep harvesting your hydrangeas this month, and share your creative ways to enjoy them.
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