Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Taming the Hydrangea beast…

Yesterday was supposed to be just another rainy day here in Portland; but instead we had sun. Glorious mood lifting sun! Isn’t it amazing how the plants and the dog all line up to take advantage of the warming rays coming in the front door? It didn’t take long for me to pull on my gardening clothes and head outside. You see not only was it a sunny day but it was my first opportunity to walk out into my garden and actually do something! Yes I’ve been cleared to toss the crutches aside and use my right leg! It’s not exactly a smooth gait, and my range of motion is somewhat limited but I can certainly stand and cut back the Hydrangea bush, one of those garden tasks that needs to be done at the right time, or you loose your blooms for the upcoming season.

Here is the “before” picture…look at all those dried up blooms!
Before I show you the “after” picture I want to share a few discoveries I made along the way. For instance don’t you just love the moss covering the old branches?
And isn’t the pealing bark interesting? I don’t know if this is healthy for a Hydrangea but it’s only happening on the oldest branches. Speaking of I have no idea how old this bush is but there are a few seriously thick and craggily branches at the base.
A couple years back, when I was tired of looking at a big mass of bare sticks in the early spring, I decided to plant a few Clematis armandii 'Snowdrift' below the Hydrangea and let them weave their way through the shrub. The first year there were plenty of beautiful and fragrant blooms but last year, nothing. Am I wrong or do these look like flower buds?
Pruning away I found myself sandwiched in between the garage and the Hydrangea and realized this position affords a view of the patio not often seen. It’s so empty now, but in my minds eye I can see the table and chairs, countless potted plants and friends that will bring it to life in just a couple months!
Ok here are the after shots. A seriously smaller Hydrangea!
Sorry about the haze in these pictures, the sun wasn't cooperating with my shot, not that I'm complaining. Isn't it odd that someone planted this shrub right in front of the only window in the garage?
There is another benefit to cutting back the Hydrangea, I end up cutting off a few "new" canes, ones that didn’t have a bloom last year and instead have leaves forming on the tip. Since I am always on the lookout for something new to put in a vase and bring in the house these are perfect!
In the following weeks the leaves will open and we may even have blooms, I love bringing spring inside the house.
What a fabulous day! The invigorating smell of the sun warming the earth, the blue sky, the birds singing and the absolutely divine feeling of being outside working in the garden on a warm (55 degrees) sunny day! I am one extremely happy gardener!


  1. H Loree~~ I'm so glad to hear you're up on your feet again and it sounds like the fresh air and sunshine done ya good. To tell you the truth, I'm a little surprised [read: jealous] at your blue sky. It was a constant downpour just a few miles south of you. Those are DEFINITELY Clematis buds and it looks like you're in for a real treat. I must say I admire your restraint on the hydrangea. I always tend to over do it.

    Looks like it's starting to rain again. At least it's warm.

  2. I'm so jealous of your hydrangea cuttings! They look perfect for some propagation...

  3. It's safe to say you are NOT excited about spring/summer - yes?

  4. I am glad you are back on your feet. Gardeners around here may as well be handicapped, after all the rain, then the snow, the soil has the consistency of pudding. Step of the paving and you could lose a shoe.

  5. I can almost "hear" the happiness through your words and pictures, Loree. I'm glad you got to enjoy that sunny day in the garden on your own two feet.

  6. The sun picture with doggie and plants is amazing! Glad you were able to take advantage of the beautiful day!

  7. Glad to hear you are back out trimming away, just n time for is just around the corner right?

  8. This is the happiest thing I read all day. Hooray for the freedom to garden again! I guess if you had to be laid up, you picked the perfect month, but still... great that the housebound period is over and done with! I have a hydrangea for the first time, guess I need to go prune it next time I'm out there. Mine is teeny! Yours looks quite mature. Yes, weird that it's blocking the window. Wonder if they were up to no good in there? :)

  9. So glad you are walking again! And so WEIRD to see such non-dangerous plants on your blog... Maybe you should glue little spikes onto the hydrangea.

  10. Welcome back to the land of the gardening, Loree! So happy to hear you are off your crutches and cleared to do some work outside. And what a great day for it, too! Lila looks so happy (and comatose) in the sun: my kitties do it too, although their sun space is seriously challenged by the mass of plants that moved indoors at out houselast fall.
    The clematis armandii will be lovely soon!

  11. Isn't it amazing when everything comes together just right? A day off, crutches gone, sun out, buds bursting. Those sunny February days are the best.

  12. Thank you Grace! I am sorry to hear you didn't get to share in the glorious day too! Regarding the hydrangea restraint I surprised myself, as I was working away I thought I was going too far...turns out it was just right.

    Dirty Girl, I've never tried to propagate these cuttings...(truth be told I'm not that thrilled with this particular Hydrangea) but now you've got me thinking about it.

    Denise, ya, not at all!

    Les, Yuck! I do know exactly what you're talking about with the shoe...this is one reason we've got so much hard-scape!

    Pam, glad it came was GLORIOUS!

    faroutflora, she has sun radar I swear, the smallest patch and she finds it and squeezes into it!

    susie, contrary to what the calendar says I feel spring is very much right around the corner!

    Karen, I can't imagine if I had been laid-up in June...terrifying! I think a former home-owner was quite the wood worker, perhaps he had tools in there he was trying to hide from "the bad guys"? Or maybe it was something more mysterious!

    Greensparrow, that is a good idea! I know, if it weren't so established I might have taken it out. But as it is I respect it's right to lend a little "sweet" to the danger garden.

    Jane, thank you! Lila got to follow me outside too and do a little sun bathing on a blanket, she was positively giddy!

    Megan, I'll take more just like that one please!


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