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Hydrangea Happiness on Cape Cod

Hydrangea Happiness on Cape Cod

It’s the start of the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival and not even COVID-19 will prevent us from celebrating summer gardens and our signature flower. Here are a few tips about growing Hydrangeas and a sneak peak at our friend Helen McVeigh’s garden, which is open for the benefit of the Barnstable Education Foundation on July 10th and 12th from 10 AM to 4 PM. For more information about the festival, including garden descriptions and addresses, go to the Cape Cod Chamber’s website.

Helen is a master at having fun with garden ornamentation. If you visit her garden, you’ll get many ideas about how to attractively arrange objects so that they compliment your landscape. See hydrangeas and hundreds of other flowers when you visit her yard.
Helen’s garden contains a fairy garden, cutting gardens, and many perennials. You’ll also be delighted by the many birdhouses created by Bobby Hallstein.
Many people ask about hydrangea color and how to make their light blue shrub turn darker or even purple. Although you can change the pH so that a light blue turns to light pink, the depth of color is genetic. So adding lime around this plant on a regular basis would turn these flowers a light to mid-pink, you’ll never make them dark blue, dark pink or dark purple.
This is a blue hydrangea in early September. If your shrub’s flowers don’t last that long, chances are it’s in too much sun. Although hydrangea shrubs will grow in full sun, the flowers tend to slightly wilt on hot days even when the plant is well watered. That wilting makes the flowers turn brown in August. In order to have flowers that last all summer and into the fall, grow hydrangeas where they are protected from the sun during the hours of 11 to 3. Hydrangeas flower best when they get at least 3 hours of direct sun, but if that’s in the morning or very late afternoon, the blooms last longer.

Here are some other hydrangea tips for mid-summer.

  • It’s fine to put new hydrangeas in the landscape in the summer, but you’ll need to pay attention to keeping them hydrated. In addition to your normal deep soaking of the entire area, you might need to spot-water with a hose or soaker hose if the weather is hot and sunny.
  • When growing re-blooming varieties such as endless summer, clip any browned flowers off as soon as they die. This will improve the look of the plant and help to stimulate the second flowering that is formed on some of the new growth in the fall.
  • Don’t overdo it with aluminum sulfate! A small amount is fine if your plants are turning pink and you want them to revert to blue. But too much can not only change the flowers to an odd “swimming-pool turquoise,” but it can also burn the foliage and distort the growth. Sulfur is gentler for making the soil more acidic, but even with that follow the directions on the package so that you don’t overdo it.
C.L. Fornari’s garden will be open on July 17th and 19th. This property is a “country style” garden, with plenty of flowers, large vegetable garden, and wild spaces left for native plants and wildlife. Most of her hydrangeas are labeled.
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