Tuesday, July 12, 2016


In the spring, rhododendrons and azaleas are the workhorses of Vancouver's gardens, parks and boulevards, with the different varieties providing months of changing shapes, scents and colours.

In the summer, hydrangeas take over. Like rhodos, hydrangea varieties can look so different that it's hard to believe they all belong to the same species. Most common are the mopheads -- those big pom-pom flowers that are everywhere, mainly in blues, pinks, purples and whites. I have a sneaking preference for the lacecaps, with their tightly curled centres and outer rims of open petals. I can imagine them as a cap on an old-fashioned head, with the petals serving as lace around the face. Then there are the climbing hydrangeas, which seem to put up with any amount of pruning, sprinting up my garage walls as high as I will let them go.

I've always had good luck with hydrangeas, probably because they do well in the shade, and my garden has plenty of that. However, they do tend to get leggy and flop over under the weight of their blossoms, probably a pruning issue. As their name (hydra) suggests, they need lots of water, so they may not be the best plants to choose if climate change brings us dryer summers. But this year's moderate weather has been kind, and my hydrangeas and the many I encounter in my walks all seem to be thriving. Here are some of the hydrangeas I've been enjoying this summer:

Pink and purple hydrangeas through the window of the Ferry Gallery in West Vancouver are a nice foreground to the green lawn and the ocean beyond. 

These are my neighbour Audrey's oak-leaf hydrangeas. They got her into trouble because they grow so vigorously under her extremely green thumb that they are spilling over onto the sidewalk. Someone complained, and the city has ordered her to cut them back.

I liked this cheerful display of  blue mophead hydrangeas contrasted against the trunk of a cherry tree.

These are mopheads in my garden. They start out white but change to various colours as they age. What's interesting is that one blossom will turn one colour and another a different one, seemingly for no reason. One of these blossoms seems to be going pink and the other purplish blue.

These are lacecaps in my front garden. One blossom is more pinkish purple, the one beside it more blue. Who knows why?

I always admire this long planting of white mophead hydrangeas when I walk past it in the Kerrisdale area. Somebody knows how impressive mass plantings can be!
This garden is a study in blue, with thyme blooming on the ground and blue hydrangeas acting as a backdrop.

Another lacecap from my front garden, this one blue and white. 

My boxwood hedge acts as a nice frame for the hydrangeas bursting over its top.
My sister Diane admired this bouquet and was interested to learn it was mainly lacecap hydrangeas.She always said she didn't like hydrangeas, but her previous experience was with mopheads. She may change her mind about planting hydrangeas in the future.

1 comment:

  1. Lace caps...who knew? Wonderful photos. Now, is John still taking most of your photos or are you taking them?