As a three-time graduate of the University of Delaware, a 23-year staff member, a parent of an alumna and a newly trained UD Master Gardener, one great way to show my school pride is to add the blue and gold to my garden.
True blue is a difficult color to obtain in the garden. Besides the reliable blue macrophylla hydrangea, I’ve been able to add blue cornflower, caryopteris (a shrub), delphinium and a few lobelias to the landscape.
Using plants and accents, I am slowly building my #BlueHensForever tribute!
While other colors show off in my garden, tendrils of blue and gold are woven through with plants, containers, garden furniture and garden art, which I continue to incorporate into the landscape bit by bit —a little addition or two each year. All that’s missing was a UD Blue Hen garden flag! Most were very sport-oriented so I designed my own and found a company that will make them. I have 87 hydrangeas so I thought this was appropriate!
I’m not going too far out on a limb to say that 2020 has been a horrible year so far. Sickly, stressful, polarizing and divisive. Since March 13, 2020 I have worked from home and also had an opportunity to take temporary custody of my only grandchild, Hugo, who lives in NYC with his parents. There, at the epicenter of the pandemic, his parents felt their six and a half year old son might enjoy an extended visit in the southern Delaware countryside with “MiMa.” Both of us did our daily work virtually, and the extra time together concentrated on an outdoor classroom that included birdwatching and feeding, planting vegetables, planting and dividing flowers and learning about insects and pollinators. It was 11-weeks of that silver lining you hear so much about!
Working from home afforded me some extra time to water in the mornings, spend lunch time weeding, and when we were allowed to, visit some garden centers wearing masks.
My hydrangeas (currently 63 and counting) did not get the news 2020 was off to a poor start. I started seeing early indications that this would be a bumper year for hydrangeas. The best ever in my memory.
In my ever-shadier woodland backyard setting, I have lost the opportunity to flower garden. But this year, my husband and I took out three of our five concrete block raised beds (they worked but were unsightly) and used the area to create a pollinator garden. It is still a work in progress.
In the pollinator garden is an assortment of natives and non-natives. Echinacea, nepta (catmint) garden phlox “jeana”, various beebalm, senna, coreopsis, gaillardia, pink and purple Veronica speedwell, salvias, Shasta daisies, fennel, milkweed, butterfly weed (Asclepias), yarrow, false sea thrift (armería), stokesia, lavender, rosemary, cornflower, pokeweed, h.paniculata “Bobo”, solidago “Wichita Mountains”, drumstick alliums, and others.
I am not a hydrangea expert, just a big, big fan of them!
Three years ago, we took down some gangly, ugly and very spotty red tip shrubs and in their place, we planted a row of what we thought were white hydrangeas. At least that is what the labels said at Lowes, where we made a purchase and aligned them along a short stretch of split-rail fence.
We thought we bought seven, identical white hydrangeas. Two at the far end turned out to be blue lacecaps. Not exactly my plan, but I don’t mind surprises. But the one closest to my garden gate has an altogether different look than any of my other hydrangeas.
The first year, my husband kept mowing it down so it never bloomed. Last year in 2012 it looked like this:
I was delighted to finally get a pink hydrangea. Sorta, kinda. The pink was very slight, not at all over powering. To my eye, it had a very vintage look and the pink played off well against the vanilla white background color. I loved the old-fashioned delicacy to the blooms. One might say it had even Victorian aesthetic
This year, 2013, the same hydrangea surfaced with a whole new look:
Can anyone comment on what variety of hydrangea this is (as Lowe’s label was way, way off)? Even though it isn’t white, I quite like the surprise and its evolving colors. My soil apparently has quite a bit of aluminum in it, as any pink or rose hydrangeas I have tried to grow have all converted over to blue, and these are my deepest, most stunning blues. It is much harder to turn blue into pink, as you must actually subtract aluminum from the soil. Adding acid or alkaline amendments to the soil really can’t change blue over to pink. I haven’t made any cuttings for indoors as I want it to continue to grow, but it is a variety I wouldn’t mind propagating.