Hello, flower fans! “M” is for magical coral pink hydrangea (that is really what the Dutch importer calls it!), an absolutely ethereal hue of hydrangea. This version of one of my all-time favorite blooms was too gorgeous to pass up at the market, so I fudged the letter “m” just a touch.
One of the most fascinating things about hydrangea is its range of color and how the palette is achieved. Hydrangea come in various shades of white, blue, pink, purple and red and can have variegated or saturated petals. The colors depend on the pH of the soil — different levels of acidity and alkalinity change the pigments. You may notice a price differential when you purchase, for example, a cornflower blue hydrangea versus a white one. This is often because it is more difficult to titrate the soil so that it results in the “rarer” shades.
I invited my friend and colleague Karen Wise to photograph this week’s Flowers A–Z post. You will notice that a few of the images have a fun white border; they are actually shot with 4 x 5 and 6 x 7 Fuji Instant Color film, very similar to Polaroid pictures. We loved the idea of pairing the hydrangea’s antique look with vintage-style images. Read on to learn more about the history (and styling tips) for this beautiful flower. -Sarah
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Join me after the jump for some ideas about how to work with hydrangea! — Sarah
Hydrangea can be very temperamental. Here are some tips for keeping them fresh:
1. Cut at a sharp angle with a knife (or clippers, if you are more comfortable).
2. If your hydrangea has a woody lower stem, try cutting higher up on the softer green skin. This part of the stem will absorb more water.
3. Place hydrangea in warm water. The warm water can soak into the tough stem and travel up to the bloom more easily.
4. Keep hydrangea in cool air. The stem should be bathing in warm water, and the head should be basking in cool air.
5. Even the head of the hydrangea drinks! You might use a spray bottle and spritz the blooms thoroughly after cutting and placing in a vase. You can also literally dip and soak the whole head of the hydrangea for a few minutes.
I like going with the natural shape of the hydrangea’s blooms. They are so full and rounded that there is no sense in fighting them. Here, I decided to add some roses in a tight, clean pave arrangement with the hydrangea. I like the way this arrangement is almost starting to look like a topiary. I also added some lemon-scented geranium (I wish you had smell-o-vision) for a bit of texture and fanfare.
And for a pop of bright yellow, some lovely and sweetly fragrant freesia. Although these are long and spindly, I cut them down to be seated in the pave arrangement with the larger, fluffier blossoms.
Continue tucking in the freesia in several groupings, wherever you feel you want a new texture and shot of yellow.
This image has a charming, sun-bleached quality. This is Karen’s amazing eye and that fabulous Fuji!
I love how the hydrangea blooms appear to have tiny buttons in the center.
Treat your hydrangea with loving care when you first bring them home, and you can enjoy them without any droop. As with any flower, the initial conditioning of the stems and blooms can truly enhance their life. Please join me back here in two weeks when “n” will be for . . .