Monday, June 20, 2011

Simple Beauty

Hydrangeas possess a simple and elegant beauty.  They are a very old fashioned plant known for their showy blossoms.  Their popularity has grown in recent years and there are many new varieties available.  They grow easily in most yards, preferring sun to partial shade.  They do not like extreme heat, so afternoon shade is preferable.   They like well drained soil with deep watering weekly, especially during dry weather.  Soil conditions affect the color.  The more blue the color of the bloom, the more acidic the soil and the more aluminum the soil contains.  The more pink the color, the more alkaline the soil.  Remember those litmus tests from science class?   It is easier to change a pink hydrangea to blue than the reverse.   The color of white hydrangeas cannot be changed.

The lovely hydrangeas in the picture above were cut from a bush on the northeast side of our house.  I noticed the blooms as we were driving past.  I didn't even realize it was there.   We have only lived here a few months.  The color is a really deep rose pink - quite lovely.  I don't think I have ever seen one this shade before.  I had to cut a few and bring them in to enjoy.  

When cutting hydrangeas, you don't want to cut too deeply into the stem as new buds are set there.  It is better to take just the blossom stem where it attaches to the "old wood."  Therefore, stems tend to be rather short.  Short vases make arranging much easier.  I used a short cylinder vase and put three simple blossoms in it.   Odd numbers are easier to arrange than even numbers.  They have been sitting on my coffee table for a week.  Simple beauty simply makes me smile.

Take a pitcher or bucket of water with you when you cut hydrangeas as they wilt very quickly.  When you come back into the house, boil water and pour it into a container.  Place each stem in the container for 30 seconds.  Remove the flowers and arrange in room temperature water.  This process keeps the stem from sealing over so that it cannot take up water.   Change the water in the arrangement every few days, taking a small piece off the stem when you change the water.  Use boiling water to treat the stem each time the water is changed to help maintain the blooms for a longer period of time.  

I can remember the beautiful hydrangea bushes at my great grandmother's house when I was a little girl.  They were creamy white blooms covering bushes about 6 feet tall. She called them snowballs and they were gorgeous.  They make beautiful table arrangements and wedding bouquets.  If you are having a spring or summer wedding and have access to hydrangea bushes, you can make your own bouquets and centerpieces.  Because they are so "showy", arrangements do not have to be complicated.   Simple can be so elegant and beautiful.

Hydrangeas left on the bushes will dry naturally and can be cut in the fall and used for dried table arrangements or wreaths.  One of the most beautiful Christmas trees I ever saw was done by a dear friend of mine.  We worked together in a flower shop and had been friends for years.  He took  dried hydrangeas and used Design Master Floral Spray in gold and tipped dried hydrangeas and tied them together in bundles and scattered them in his tree and on his mantle among Christmas greens.  The effect was stunning!  

When our oldest daughter was married in York Harbor, Maine, I did the centerpieces for her reception with mixed fall flowers that I had ordered and beach hydrangeas that we cut from shrubs around her "In-Loves" home on the ocean front.  They were so very beautiful.  Beach hydrangeas are sort of cone shaped, cream on the bottom variegating to a mauve color on the top.  I dried many of them and kept them in a basket for years.  

Don't forget to use the bounty that nature provides out of doors in your home during the summer.  Fresh flowers add so much texture and color to our daily lives.  It is simple beauty worth enjoying every day that you can.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” — Buddha

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