Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.
Hydrangeas began blooming last week and I am thrilled. The flowers have a way to go before they are fully open but I could not wait. Hydrangea macrophylla generally bloom on old growth. In the previous two years late cold snaps ruined the buds, so this is the first promising display ever from these passalong shrubs.
Often arrangements of flowers require many more blooms than one would expect. I had to return to the garden to snip a few extra hydrangeas to complete the vase.
These flowers were so luxurious and satisfying to arrange.
Perhaps an odd use of concealer foliage, I first lay out a collar of pink achillea around the perimeter of the vase and then added the layer of leaves above. I chose Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ for its beautiful red coloring on the undersides of the leaves to complement the other pinks and reds in the arrangement.
Penstemons are also blooming this week and I used several colors as filler flowers. Husker Red has dark red foliage with white flowers and self-seeds generously. Pike’s Peak Purple is my favorite. Originally planted along the path of the meditation circle only one plant remains there. Last summer I managed to divide it and plant a piece in a section of the border, where it is blooming but not really thriving. Red Rocks is the third penstemon, and as is often the case with plants named “red,” the bloom color is pink, not red. Red Rocks is blooming well though.
Also featured in today’s vase are three stems of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’. These large clusters of oak leaf hydrangea, which open white, should gradually turn pink and eventually darken to a rich dark rose. This has never happened. Instead the flowers turn brown and dry up before reaching that stage. Maybe there will be enough rain to keep the plant happy this year.
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) – foliage only
Hydrangea macrophylla (from Jayme, March, 2013)
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)
I found a new ceramic vase at my neighborhood’s garage sale a few weeks ago. The selling point was its matching lid with holes to help secure the flowers, like a flower frog. The lid works but with limitations.
To begin this design I edged the container with a low soft border of Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow). Supported by remnants of feathery foliage, the achillea stayed precisely where I put it. But the taller, heavier hydrangeas were less cooperative. At the beginning the hydrangea stems had a lot of wiggle room in the openings, shifting around and adjusting as I inserted other flowers.
Eventually I managed but this arrangement might have been easier with a stronger base of Oasis or another anchoring system. The lid does lift up easily to add fresh water.
This view shows how the initial edging of achillea and heuchera leaves support the hydrangeas in the arrangement.
Hydrangea Color Notes
The pink color of my mophead hydrangea is surprising. I grew up in an area where hydrangeas were always blue. I have never had the soil tested here but there are plenty of pines in the neighborhood so I had assumed the soil was acidic. When Jayme gave me the plants, I think there were 2 or 3 blue flowers the first year, 2013; 1 or 2 small pale blue ones in 2014; 1 or 2 small white ones, 2015. So the flower color has been transitioning as the plants grew and became established.
For blue flowers hydrangeas require acidic soil (pH 5.5 or lower) and for pink, neutral to alkaline (pH 6.5 and higher). To change pink to blue flowers, applying aluminum sulfate to lower the pH and add aluminum to the soil is recommended.
Whew! The End
You deserve a medal if you managed to read this far. Thanks for stopping by.