"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Bluebird Hydrangeas, Once Again (1 of 3)

Bluebird Hydrangeas, Once Again (1 of 3)

From The Floral World Garden Guide and Country Companion (1879), edited by Shirley Hibberd:

“[We] know from experience that the Chinese hydrangea — meaning thereby the one generally cultivated — is so hardy that it may be left out of doors throughout the whole year, without the least risk of injury, excepting it be in the northern parts of the country, where the plants do not have an opportunity of well ripening their wood. The more recently-introduced kinds, which have mostly come from Japan, are of an equal degree of hardiness, and may be cultivated under much the same conditions. Too much stress cannot be laid on their hardy character, in order that owners of gardens… may be made aware of it and come to enjoy the beauty of the flowers….”

From Hydrangeas by Naomi Slade:

“[Hydrangea serrata] likes partial or dappled shade…. The species has lacecap flowers and serrated leaves — hence the name — and does well under trees. A number of cultivars… will go through several colour changes throughout the season — but since they are not susceptible to pH, these are consistent in their inconsistency. The white cultivars will remain white regardless of soil pH, but the other pink and blue cultivars are moderately susceptible, so situations arise where, for example, Bluebird, grown on alkaline soil, will produce flowers that are noticeably pink.”


This and the next two posts feature photos I took in May and June, of the tiny flower structures of several Bluebird Hydrangea plants growing near the base of three large pine trees on the eastern side of my back yard. The blooms were a bit puny this year — owing, I think, to warm January and February temperatures (causing the plants to flower prematurely) followed by a couple of very cold weeks that nipped them in the bud, so to speak. But I still liked aiming a macro lens at them to capture as much of the color and detail as I could — especially on those whose shapes reveal both vertical and horizontal arrangement of the white petals. If you would like to see last year’s versions of the same plants and flowers, click here.

Lately I’ve become fascinated by historical botanical drawings, which I often find in older books about botany or gardening, like the one I quoted at the top of this post. Many books like this — published in the late 1800s or early 1900s — are more likely to contain sketches, drawings, or woodcut prints of plant specimens rather than photographs, since photography and publishing had not yet merged to be as ubiquitous as they are now. If the subject interests you, here are two highly browsable sites filled with information on the history of botanical drawings:

The History of Botanical Art and Illustration


The second site — Plantillustrations.org — has thousands of drawings extracted from historical books and other web sites. It can be searched by either the common or scientific names of plants, or browsed by the names of over 2500 artists. Here, for example, is a delightful illustration of a Bluebird Hydrangea’s relative, originally from a book published in the mid-1800s: Hydrangea serrata. Take a look, it’ll be fun!

Thanks for visiting!

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