Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Hydrangeas Are Beaut! Green Thumb with Maree Curran

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Hydrangeas Are Beaut! Green Thumb with Maree Curran

Article excerpt

HYDRANGEAS are a classic garden plant, often conjuring up images of old-fashioned cottage gardens rather than contemporary ones. But in the past few years hydrangeas have been enjoying a well-deserved resurgence in popularity, as we appreciate just how easy to grow, long-lived and beautiful they really are.

With their lovely neat mounds of lush green leaves, topped by clusters of little buds that grow plumper by the day, they are a highlight formed in semi-shaded situations from mid spring through to the end of summer. In full bloom, the large, striking heads of flowers in shades of blue, purple, pink, cerise and white are just gorgeous. The foliage too is lovely, with large, dark-green oval leaves, often with serrated edges. I always think that the lushness of the foliage and the (mostly) cool tones of the flowers have a cooling effect in a summer garden.

There are more than 70 species in the hydrangea genus, including small trees and climbing varieties. But what we commonly call hydrangea is usually hydrangea macrophylla of which there are more than 600 cultivars of this species alone.

Hydrangea macrophylla originated in Asia and Japan and was brought to Europe in the late eighteenth century where it quickly became highly prized. Hydrangeas are the flower of Mothers' Day in France, just as the chrysanthemum is here in Australia. They are widely grown for cut flowers.

In the cultivated hydrangeas there are two main flower types. The most common form is probably the Moptop, which produces large heads of simple, flat four-petalled flowers. Lacecaps have these flat flowers around the outside of the head, surrounding a centre made up of masses of tiny, intricate, lacy flowers.

Hydrangeas are an easy-to-grow, fast-growing deciduous shrub to 1-3m. Flower colour is somewhat variable according to soil conditions. …

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