Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The beauty of a different kind of hydrangea

The exquisite hydrangea you see above is one I've coveted for years.  When I was down at Wilkerson Mill Gardens near Palmetto (my home town) a couple of weeks ago, I snapped this photograph of Hydrangea involucrata, which has the loveliest soft (to the touch) grayish foliage and muted lavender flowers.  Even after it has reached its peak, the blooms are still beautiful, fading to creamy white.

According to Elizabeth Dean, co-owner of the nursery with her husband Gene Griffith, the Japanese name for this variety is 'Tama Azisai', Tama meaning "ball" and Azisai, "hydrangea."  The ball refers not to the open blooms but to the ball-shaped buds.  If you look closely, you can pick out a few of these latter.

I must say there are so many treasures at this wonderful nursery (see for their offerings).  I rode up to the mountains last weekend with Lyndy Broder, who has an amazing collection of plants in her multi-acre garden in the countryside near Stockbridge.  So many she found at Wilkerson Mill Gardens.  Back when you couldn't locate anything unusual, Elizabeth and Gene would have it.  You could always find something beautiful and out-of-the-ordinary.

This photograph illustrates how a single hydrangea can add great beauty to a landscape, even as the season wanes.  I just stood there transfixed at the combination of muted colors and the delicate nature of the blooms.

I'm adding this to my wish list, no matter if it never gets to be the size shown here in my lifetime.  I always think of Margaret Moseley, who through her eighties and into her nineties kept planting things she had read about or seen somewhere.  Just this past year, she put in several 'Limelight' hydrangeas.  At 98 years old, she's raving about their blooms and how quickly they grow, so I guess it's never too late to be thrilled by a new plant in your garden.

A reminder:  Next Tuesday evening, October 28th, the American Hydrangea Society will have its fall meeting at the Church of the Holy Spirit at 4465 Northside Drive, Atlanta 30327, at the corner of Mt. Paran Road. We gather at 7 p.m. for social time and to view all the plants we might win.  The program begins at 7:30 p.m.  Sara Henderson, a longtime hydrangea expert and past president of the AHS, will be the speaker.  Sara is currently Director of Gardens for Historic Oakland Cemetery.  She has extensive horticultural affiliations and is a popular lecturer.  Her lovely garden has been on HGTV's A Gardener's Diary and on many tours.  You can read about her in the latest AHS newsletter at: