Hydrangea Redux

I know that summer is passing with lightning speed when I look at these hydrangea blooms. Much as I hate the thought of the summer getting away, I do like hydrangeas best when they start to fade, turning into dusty shades of blues and pinks. The oakleaf hydrangea flowers make the most dramatic changes, turning from pale chartreuse to mottled delicate pink. In the wild, hydrangea flowers were originally like lacecap species. They have an outer ring of sterile large florets attracting insects to do their pollinating work on the central bouquet of fertile tiny florets. It is this structural contrast of the flower–the large florets being strictly for show, acting as decoy for the miniscule and delicate fertile florets in the center–that I find so lovely and interesting. Yet, years of cultivation have brought us the big mop head with only large florets found in most common hydrangeas. The name hydrangea comes from the Greek words for water and vessel, describing the vase-shaped seed pods of the flowers.

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