Summer’s Autumn: The Changing Color of Hydrangeas

With July, we enter what I’ve always called the second phase of Summer; the start of the high heat in North Carolina.  Nowhere is that more evident that in the Hydrangea beds.  The vivid initial blooms came in late May and early June.  I should point out here that in Eastern North Carolina, Summer really begins in early May. It’s when the warmer temperatures set in and the blooms emerge in their deepest hues.

With the coming of July, the blooms begin their color change, going from deep blue in this case to lighter blue.

As July ripens, the blooms slowly turn to a pale blue and light yellow, then slowly begin to dry out.

For cut flower purposes, hydrangea blooms are harvested here during each phase. Many are selected for drying.

It’s the PH of the soil that determines Hydrangea color.  Blue requires an acidic soil of 5.5. or lowers.  Pink demands neutral to alkaline soil or a PH of 5.5 to 6.5.  For Purple blooms, plant in a mix of acidic and alkaline soil of 5.5 and 6.5.  If you want more control over the color, plant them in containers.

As for shooting them, I usually use a 60 mm Micro lens.  Micro is Nikon speak for Macro.  I prefer to shoot in the shade and I seldom use a polarizer because in the shade, glare is seldom a problem.  And use a tripod.  It’s my experience that floral shots like these seldom score well in the social media whirl of likes and loves and such but the are fun to shoot and who knows, you might even sell one or two.  Thanks for the look and the read and have a good week.  See you next time.


The Rhodies take the Stage

Rododendrons of course.  The original Rhodies were planted on the farm at least 75 or 80 years ago.  Over the ensuing years they’ve been mauled by Hurricanes from Hazel to Floyd to Irene, Nor’Easters,  falling trees, heavy snow and everything else nature can throw at them and still….they thrive.

This bloom is on one of the newer volunteers.   The filtered morning sun was spotlighting the bloom perfectly giving the scene a tropical jungle effect.

Rhododendron is from the Greek words “Rhodon” for Rose and “Dendron” for tree.  There are hundreds of varieties from small shrubs to large trees and they grow just about everywhere on the planet from the tropics to the Himalayas.  The original shrub here must be about 25 feet in diameter and at least 15 to 20 feet tall.  In a word, Huge!   Off shoots have spread beyond the Azalea and Rododendron Beds into the Camellias and Dogwoods and beyond.  No one seems to have had an appetite for controlling them.   They all share the same fondness for Acidic Soil.  A PH of 5.5 is ideal.    Rhodies like light, well drained soil with ample moisture particularly   in the summers.  As you might suspect, acid type compost is best: pine needles, decayed oak leaves etc.   As North Carolinians say, “Get yourself one. It’ll probably outlive you.”   See you next time on most of this same site.