In Northern California, It’s Hydrangea O’Clock


America’s collective consciousness knows the crocus, emerging from snow. We wallow in roses and peonies, come summer. And hydrangeas? In my part of California, the time is now.

Drought brings burn. So be it. Lacecaps always show a little more decay than other varieties. With variegated foliage,

Hydrangea Lacecap I

Or straight green.

Hydrangea Lacecap II

I like to hide the classic mopheads, showy and homogenous as they are, behind lots of plant scraggle. I’m always pretending I live wilder than I do. These, for example, sit almost at my fence line.

Hydrangea Lacecap III

Now we’ve only lavender left between today and the quiescence of late summer. And after lavender, we won’t see new signs until leaves change, or drop. Until berries. Which – as late summer is our dead of winter – might serve as California’s first sign that things will grow again.

The hydrangeas have bloomed before, of course. Sometimes I can’t resist and I bring them in the house.

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19 Comments

  • I have two varieties in my Northern Virginia yard. The mopheads are blooming like crazy with their beautiful blueness, but the lace caps not so much. It was hard winter.

  • Ah, your hard winter, our hard summer of drought. Let’s hope for 2016.

  • Beautiful. Hydrangeas are “the grandmother flower” for me. My maternal grandmother had them in her Salem, Oregon garden, which was lush, bright green, and warm in the summer months when we visited her. She also had a garden with rhubarb, which to my child’s eyes looked prehistoric and mysterious.

    06/25/15
    8:03 am
    Lisa said...

    @kcecelia, Thanks. And rhubarb, like asparagus, is mysterious:).

  • I love lace caps, my garden is smothered in them just now. When we went to LA in December for the weekend for our tenth anniversary ( most glamorous trip ever) I burst into tears when I sniffed and stroked the flowers in SoCal, I felt like Persephone granted a temporary respite.

    06/25/15
    9:23 am
    Lisa said...

    @Tabitha, Ah, Persephone. Come out of the Hades darkness and into our light. xox.

  • My big ones are all deep blue and are looking good.
    Even better, deer don’t seem to like them. Everything else in my yard that I value is behind black plastic fencing — the salad bar is closed guys!

    Mine get droopy if it gets too hot and I sometimes leave the hose running on them to perk them back up. How do you keep yours going in the drought?

    06/25/15
    9:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @RoseAG, Hahahaha! Mine need regular water, which right now is only a twice a week. They do droop during the day, but pick back up at night without any more water.

  • Just planted a bunch of variegated lace caps in our backyard yesterday. I don’t love tons of color near our house so they’re perfect. Also planted more butterfly bushes yesterday without garden gloves, and wow – big contact dermatitis all over my hands. Off to buy some gloves!

    06/25/15
    9:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @Kathy, I recommend Costco for bulk packs of Atlas gloves:). And exactly how I feel about color, and the variegated. I bet yours look beautiful.

    06/30/15
    8:17 am
    Kathryn Fenner said...

    Ah hah! That is the source of my rash! Thanks!

  • I love hydrangeas. So showy and one of the few plants in my garden that thrives with inattention.

    06/25/15
    9:25 am
    Lisa said...

    @Jen, They are pretty forgiving, aren’t they:).

  • Kathy, Lisa, me too, I only have white now in the garden.

    06/25/15
    12:11 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Tabitha, The fabled white gardens of Britain.

  • I adore lace caps but have never really had them, but then I adore mop heads too. I guess I just adore hydrangeas in every form. I never had white hydrangea before the current batch planted last fall, but I am finding that they are perfect in their chosen spots.

    Your hydrangea are beautiful and make me wish for a slightly larger garden, larger than my tiny condo yard anyway, without being large.

    06/25/15
    12:12 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Mardel, My yard is pretty little too. I have almost no lawn – just layers of plants and shrubs and trees…Glad your hydrangeas are bringing joy.

    06/30/15
    8:19 am
    Kathryn Fenner said...

    See if you can score an oakleaf hydrangea–it’s native, and blooms white, fading to rusty pink.
    http://www.woodlanders.net might have some!

  • We have bunches of Endless Summers in the front, back and side yards. They are just popping now! I’ve been told, by those in the know, that our hard winter was very good for hydrangeas, for some plant-ish reason.

    06/25/15
    12:13 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Patsy, Plants always have their reasons…

  • I only have one hydrangea and it’s an oakleaf with a white lacecap. We still have a few waves of colour ahead here — the buddleia is just beginning to bloom everywhere (I’ve never seen as many butterflies (Western Tiger Swallowtail) as this year!) as is the lavender, but my agapanthus is just barely budding now, and the crocosmia is far from flowering. What we call Rose of Sharon doesn’t even show any buds yet, but they’ll be everywhere by mid-July, I’d guess. And lilies. . . Echinacea and Rudbeckia. . . There’s something to be said for a moderate, rainy climate, I guess, because our flowering seems to be spread out.

    06/25/15
    12:13 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Frances/Materfamilias, Yes, the moderate and rainy is in some ways the best possible gardening world. By late summer California want to go to the ocean, or the mountains, and wait for rain.

  • Being from New England originally and still spending summer vacations on Cape Cod, I love hydrangeas. The blue ones are so reminiscent of Cape Cod, the Endless Summer Bridal Blush are lovely, but, lately, my favorite is the lace cap Lady in Red. Here in Virginia, even with the heat, the hydrangeas are taking over one side of my house but I love them.

    06/25/15
    12:18 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Jane, Yes, they remind me of Cape Cod too:). Lady in Red – I’d never seen a red one!

    06/26/15
    11:10 am
    Jane said...

    @Jane, My Lady in Red actually comes out lavender. Maybe it’s due to the pH in the soil.

    06/26/15
    11:16 am
    Lisa said...

    Like the pink ones that turn blue maybe?

  • We are growing the variety called Endless Summer (hydrangeas) in our backyard. They are lovely–and bloom until autumn.

    In our front yard and out at our farm (where I am now) we grow Oak Leaf Hydrangeas, which are my favorites.

    06/25/15
    3:17 pm
    Lisa said...

    Oak Leaf are gorgeous.

  • I’d commented on my phone yesterday. I do have bright pink mop heads in a few areas away from the house to draw one’s eye there, and I love them too.

  • Fabulous pinks! Beautiful.

    06/26/15
    2:15 pm
    Lisa said...

    Thank you!

  • It’s hydrangea o’clock in NY too! Also daylily time, and the daisies are just starting. Lovely time of year.

    06/30/15
    7:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @MJ, We are about to pass our peak of summer, you are just entering it, right?

  • Ours are pretty much done down here in SC. Generally they are blue, from our acid soil, but nowhere near the deep blue I recall from a summer on Cape Cod. Hydrangeas say the Cape to me.

    06/30/15
    7:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathryn Fenner, Hydrangeas, gravel driveways, and the smell of beach grass:).

  • Beautiful! I’ve never seen hydrangeas that shade of pink. Hamptons hydrangeas are blue.

    I worry about the California drought, and about the likelihood of fires, especially being married to a man who used to travel to California for weeks at a time to fight fires. He worries, too.

    Lots of positive thoughts and prayers for your lovely state!

    07/01/15
    7:53 am
    Lisa said...

    Thank you. I fear that fire season has only just begun, and it will not be easy.

  • Here in upstate South Carolina, where it’s hot and humid, hydrangeas generally start declining in July. However, I purchased a variety called ‘Garden Party’ from QVC for 2 years now. They are an improvement over Endless Summer in that they start blooming earlier, and bloom later than the others. Mine are mostly blue-such a lovely, cooling shade, and so rare in plants. I have a few white, pink, ‘red’, but the hydrangea is my favorite flower. There is also a variety that is SCENTED. Google it. Never met a scented hydrangea before. Lisa, found you through Une Femme.

    08/19/15
    2:01 pm
    Lisa said...

    Dee, so nice to meet you. Une Femme is the best. My hydrangeas are suffering from the drought:(. Not only their own water restrictions, but the reduction in canopy of the Chinese elm they are supposed to be under. Not a lot of “under” happening, and the leaf burn is terrible. I think I will simply be using this year to cut back everything that’s gotten leggy. In other words, take advantage of a fall in which everything is going to look awful anyway and take a big dose of awful all at once.

    I love the options open to gardeners in hot and humid climates. Hostas, for a start. The list is long. Do you blog at all? If so, or if you know any good Southern garden blogs, I’d love to have more links.

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  1. […] back yard is green. It’s hydrangea time. Yeah, they are leggy, pruning mistake. Lesson […]