Dashed Hopes

What went wrong? I knew when I planted leftover (and free) Easter hydrangeas at Kilbourne Grove, that there was a good chance they would not live. Although they get a fluffy, white duvet of snow every year, I am sure that I am not in the right zone for them. But ‘zonal denial’ and stinginess takes you a long way.

This is what they looked like at the end of July, 2009.

Even though I had planted all blue, they bloomed whatever colour they decided they wanted to be.

I had high hopes for them this year, after all they are an important part of my favourite spot in the garden.

This is what I got,

there are just one or two flowers on the whole thing.

Could the very early (and warm) April, and the cold weather in May have led to the demise of most of the flower buds? What went wrong?


27 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    PatioPatch said,

    Hello, That’s a nice avenue walk so I can see your disappointment but wondered if, how and when you pruned them. Not heard of Easter Hydrangeas but they look like mopheads which set bud in very late summer. Also I understand that severe cold/snow can freeze out the flower buds.


    • 2

      Laura, I didn’t prune them at all. I know they flower on old wood. They are mopheads, just very commonly forced into flower and sold as a traditional Easter plant. They have flowered every year (4) that I have had them, just not this year.

  2. 3

    Deborah, Your Lime walk (?) I forget what is planted here… something hardy. It does look lush with your hydrangeas… maybe they just prefer to be contained? Even all green they are lovely but not the same I know. They may adjust to all the freedom and give you great florescence next year. Your veranda looks so inviting!

  3. 5

    gardeningasylum said,

    Oh dear, you’ve got mopheads I think, which bloom only every 3 or 4 years even in Connecticut. A friend with a somewhat formal garden just put in the h. paniculata dwarf ‘Little Lamb’ – might be a more reliable choice?

    • 6

      Cyndy, they have flowered every year (4) since I planted them, just not this year. I only planted them as they were free, 100 feet requires a lot of plants equals expensive!!! I will probably change it down the road, as soon as finances allow.

  4. 7

    Racquel said,

    Maybe they just need some time to adjust to their new home. Good luck!

  5. 9

    thevioletfern said,

    What a great view you have created! Even though your hydrangea didn’t bloom this year they still look nice and healthy – did you prune them? I know that hydrangea will either bloom pink in more alkaline soil and blue in more acidic soil.

  6. 11

    Sandra Jonas said,

    Deborah, Hydrangea macrophylla will leaf out and expose the flower bud at the first hint of warm weather.The following frosts destroy the buds,(and sometimes whole stems) therefore no flowers. You might be happier with ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas, as the bloom on NEW wood and are totally unaffected by the late frosts.

    As for the colour, It takes a few seasons for them to adjust after being watered & fertilized in the pot. ( the water supply is treated & therefore not acid)
    ALL the hydrangeas I have potted for my veranda always bloom pink, and they are watered exclusively by hose. In the garden they revert back to the blue or shades of… depending on the soil & fertilizer used.

    Your lime walk is just sensational!! Simple… Classic, like all the best things in life.

    • 12

      Thanks Sandra for the lovely compliment on my Lime Walk. I am very pleased with it so far. We did get unusually high temperatures in April, then cold weather in May, this is probably what caused it. I never thought of Annabelles for her, the macrophyllas were free, and I needed a lot so I planted them. Maybe I will trial Annabelles and panticulatas for the future.

  7. 13

    Jen said,

    Mine didn’t bloom that great this year either. And we had a very easy winter. Funny last winter was harsh, and they bloomed like crazy.

    There are many varieties that bloom on new growth, and they are very suitable for the harsher climates. The “wedding” ? series? I think they are called blushing bride, etc. my sister grows them in Armstrong.


    • 14

      I might trial that series Jen, I know Endless Summer is one of them as well. We had crazy weather in Ontario this spring, very hot in April, and then very cold in May, did you get that in BC?

  8. 15

    teza said,

    Beautiful but such a heartache! It is indeed all about whether they bloom on new or old wood. Old leaves you succeptible to those nasty frosts – or the snow we had on Mother’s Day – not that I need to remind you! Macrophyllas are not on my most cherished list.

    Having said this, have you considered the paniculatas? Annabelle is one of those ubiquitous over used selections, but there is now the Incrediball with supposed basketball sized blooms that aren’t supposed to flop, or for those wanting something different, there is Invincibelle – the first pink flowering Annabelle…. but be forewarned, twice I have had it returned because it bloomed white!

    There is also the wonderful Japanese [or is it Chinese?] H. serrata, which is typically of the lacecap flower formation….. to die for Deborah, and here it is perfectly hardy if planted in dappled shade and afforded consistent moisture. Its one of those gardening dilemmas. And blue…… my Grandmother buried a pound of carpenters nails in the whole and had the bluest flowers in the neighborhood. I am trying it this coming year as H serrata ‘Bluebird’ is decidedly mauve this year, and that with weekly additions of diluted aluminum sulphate.

    I can feel your pain! Chin up….. you may e down, but surely you’re not beaten yet!

    • 16

      T, I need to win a lottery, preferably a huge one. I would love to try the H. serrata, it sounds lovely, but how much money are we talking about. I have a 100 foot walk to fill, I think we are talking mucho dinero.

  9. 17

    Barbara H. said,

    Well, I’m thinking they just need a couple of years to really settle in, but there are lots of comments from folks who sound like they know what is what in the hydrangea world. Even if you decide to go with something else in this spot, there must be someplace on your property that would love to have a healthy looking green border?

    • 18

      It is a very healthy green border, they grew like crazy this year, Barbara. I am just hoping it was due to the freak weather we had this spring. You know we gardeners, it will be better next year.

  10. 19

    Wendy said,

    whoa – that’s so interesting that they ended up different colors! I was going to say funny, but not sure you’re appreciating the humor in this. I can see how it’d be very annoying! I do think some hydrangeas take a while to establish. I just got my first bloom in 5 years. Then again, all my stuff is starved and near death.

  11. 21

    Edith Hope said,

    Dearest D, Of course, for me, it is lovely all green. But I do not suppose you wish to hear that at all. Nevertheless, they seem to be growing well so I am sure that one day they will bloom blue or pink or shades in between. For now, I should rejoice that they are green!!

    • 22

      E, they are very green and very healthy, they have grown so much this year. I had actually first thought about just a green border for the Lime Walk, but then got these for free.

  12. 23

    Sandra Jones said it all. I too have what you call Easter Hydrangea in the garden given to me by friends. I live in zone 6 and we usually get late snow and frost, but this year all the mopheads bloomed wonderfully. Locally, everyone is calling this the year of the hydrangea. My EH came back this year, blooming blue, but I do not expect flowers next year, unless we have a mild spring where the new flower buds do not get frozen off. The Easter Hydrangea from this year are blooming twice, once when I got them and new flowers breaking now.

  13. 25

    Grace said,

    I like your hydrangea area/allee. I didn’t read all your comments but I think next year your plants will do great! You know us gardeners and our eternal optimism, right?

  14. 27

    […] my huge disappointment last year with my hydrangea, I was fully prepared to return to Kilbourne Grove and find horrible and […]

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