Tuesday, 12 July 2011


One of the Old Bat's favourite plants is the hydrangea. It certainly isn't a plant I drool over - neither does the Old Bat if the truth be told, but she is certainly more keen on the plant than I am. So keen is she that we have four of the plants in our garden. One is in the front and the other three, two of which are in tubs, are in the back. The plants in tubs are, if I'm honest, a bit mangy while those planted straight into the soil are now biggish specimens. But all four are pink. (That's the one in the soil in the back garden in the picture.) Which is a disappointment to the Old Bat. She has always hankered after a blue hydrangea.

The day I found a large lump of rusting iron was a red-letter day in the Old Bat's life. I can't remember just what that lump of iron had been, nor could I swear to where I found it but I think it turned up when I was digging over a bit at the bottom of the garden that appeared to have been used by a builder as a dump for all his broken bricks. Anyway, the Old Bat, who , Hilda Rumpole-like, also goes by the name of She Who Must Be Obeyed, swooped on the iron. She had read somewhere that a lump of iron buried beneath a hydrangea plant would ensure the plant produced blue flowers. I duly replanted the hydrangea, having dug through the soil to excavate a hole in the underlying chalk in which I reverently laid to rest the lump of iron I had only just dug up twenty feet further down the garden.

I don't know where SWMBO had read that piece of nonsense, but the hydrangea never did produce blue flowers. In fact, it only produced any flowers at all one more year before going to that garden centre in the sky.

If you have been reading between the lines, you may well have gathered that we have a chalky soil and it is that soil which results in pink=flowering hydrangeas. All the same, SWMBO claimed she had seen hydrangeas with blue flowers in our locality so she was convinced that nature could be tamed by nurture. If burying iron would not turn pink flowers blue, maybe we should make sure we bought a blue-flowering plant. We went off to the garden centre and there was a hydrangea, only small but beautifully formed, with blue blooms. Madam bought it, I planted it. The blooms stayed blue for the rest of that season but the following year... pink flowers.

And so it was back to taming. We bought a large tub which we filled which I filled with ericaceous compost and in it I planted another hydrangea that had blue flowers. Blow me if that hadn't turned pink the next year!

We have now given up trying to grow blue hydrangeas in our Sussex garden, and the Old Bat is delighted that the house we bought in France has a very large, blue flowered hydrangea just outside the bedroom window.

1 comment:

The Broad said...

You need potassium in the soil to have blue hydrangeas! We have lots of pink ones -- and any blue have always changed to pink as the potassium in the soil disappears. I am quite fond of them as they don't require much attention other than cutting back and de-budding -- I can manage that! I also love the 'lace' varieties -- especially the climbing ones.