Glorious Hydrangeas

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

I’m disturbed to know that you need over $88,ooo to be happy in Maryland, the so-called Land of Pleasant Living. How pleasant? My husband is a high school teacher, I am a freelance writer, dear reader, I’ll let you do the math. I still get excited about finding quarters in between the cushions of the couch.  Kids, we’re going out for premium ice cream! 

But — this is what I tell myself as a sort of bohemian pep-talk — we make up in beauty what we lack in cold hard cash. La dee dah. 

For instance, have you seen my hydrangeas? Glory be. I have become That Lady In The First Throes of Menopause Who Takes To Gardening. I believe there is actually a Myers-Briggs personality type for this. INFP, maybe? (It’s definitely for the introverts to sit in the gloaming with a glass of white wine and stare at flowers.) My hydrangeas are gorgeous. Sky blue, the blue the color of the sky in Taos, New Mexico. Multi-petaled. So blue and multi-petaled they look like creatures from another planet, one I would like to go to, unlike Mars.

The color of the flower depends on the acidity of the soil. In wine, you can taste the effect of terroir; in hydrangeas you can see it.  Baby blue to neon blue to ballet pink to the raucous slutty pink I just had my toenails painted: Not Demure.

Like many beloved East Coast garden plants, hydrangeas are an introduced species. They’re native to mainland China. It is said that when the Buddha was born he was bathed in a bath of hydrangea-flower tea. Am-cha. Doesn’t that sound like the tops? When Husb. comes home and asks me what I did all day instead of saying, “The usual, Hon,” I can say, “Dearest, I bathed in hydrangea water,” and that sort of makes up for not having money, right?

A neighbor was dividing her oak-leaf hydrangea, and asked me if I wanted some.  She sees me outside trying to wrangle my Joe Pye weed and saw a fellow sufferer since it’s obvious that gardening is a spectrum disorder. Did I want some? I was like, you understand that you’re giving me joy in the form of a garbage bag full of wilted leaves and root ball!  That’s priceless. And I intend to live on it. With hydrangeas I am Bill Gates, I have money in the bank.



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  1. Beautiful. I am envious. My hydrangeas have not bloomed this year at all . I’ve always had prolific blossoms. Too harsh a winter? Other than no blooms they are thriving.

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