I've been back from Yarmouth for a couple of days now, just catching up with things and resting a little. It was a perfect time to duck out for a few days change of scenery. There is nothing better than seeing dear friends, (who share my obsession with plants), visiting awesome gardens and garden centres, talking plants, taking gazillions of photos, and just having a bit of a break. If you've never been to Yarmouth and surrounding area, it's a beautiful place with wonderful people, scenery, and gardens, among other attractions. Including--or in my case, especially--purple hydrangeas.
There are a LOT of purple hydrangeas around the Yarmouth area, but the first time I saw one, I nearly drove off the road. I did pull over, get turned around, and go park safely out of traffic before I went and sighed and slobbered and waxed excited over this plant. Plants, actually, because there were several of them.
It was late October or early November, and here were these four or five shrubs edging a lawn, all covered in deep wine-purple flowers. Granted, they were drying on the shrub, and were darker than they would be in summer. But I knew I'd have to go back and see them in summer. Now, it's one of the highlights of a mid-summer visit; to see how many of these richly coloured blooms I can find.
We're all used to the regular mophead colours. Shades of pink, in soil that tends to the alkaline side of the pH scale (7-14)...
And blue flowers on those growing in more acid soil. (pH less than 7). Now, as far as I know, and from what literature tells me, some mopheads are the only plants that do change colour according to pH. They don't all do it, and if you have a white one, nothing you do is going to change its colour. But if you have one of the pH sensitive types, you can change from pink to blue or blue to pink. Or....
...If your soil pH is just right--not too acid, not too alkaline--and you have one of the deeper blue or deeper pink-flowered mopheads, you can get these extraordinary purple hydrangeas. Paler blue or pink results in more lavender shades, but the rich blue or pink will turn these amazing shades.
Sadly, *I* have no purple hydrangeas, though I have quite a few different species and cultivars of this wonderful shrub in my garden. There are three different lacecaps, three different paniculatas, two Annabelle-types, and one climber, and only one mophead, 'Endless Summer' original. Most mopheads are just a bit too tender for my garden, or if they do survive, their flower buds are killed off. Two of the Lacecaps I have, Blue Billows and Blue Bird, are pale blue to pink and do show a bit of pale lavender in some blooms. The third, probably 'Tokyo Delight' is white with pinkish fertile florets. No purple there.
The funny thing is, it's normally BLUE flowers that send me into squeals of delight, as I have plenty of purple flowered plants around the garden. But there's just something about these that is just so rich, unusual and alluring.
I shall have to resist the urge to come back in the autumn and become a hydrangea-ninja, slipping stealthily through darkened gardens to snip off a few dried blossoms. Nope, I would never do that. I'll just keep sighing over purple hydrangeas...
...and enjoying them as my desktop wallpaper.