Hydrangeas and celosias

There are lots of flowers in my cutting garden right now, including hydrangeas, celosias, carnations and lisianthus. Most are easy to grow; lisianthus not so much. They are prone to damping off, and flower initiation is often reliant on climate. I’ll write more on propagating lisianthus another time as there is a trick to getting them to grow well.

In the meantime, mix flowers and foliage from your garden to make a summer bouquet. This makes a lovely, unexpected gift to take to a friend when visiting.

Early summer bouquet


Head to your flower borders and throw together a bouquet of seasonal summer blooms. In my garden there are plenty of hydrangeas and roses – and down the road a snip of eucalyptus leaves (with the neighbour’s permission) pads it out. What’s flowering in your patch right now?

Plant Now: Hydrangeas


Hydrangeas are in shops now, so go grab yourself a couple, or take cuttings of your existing ones. I prefer these plants on their own in the vase, though occasionally I’ll see a nice mix of hydrangeas and foliage, like the display here (middle photo) by Olive & The Fox, with eucalyptus leaves and lady’s mantle (these are actually faux flowers – can you tell?). In the garden, though, I like my hydrangeas mixed, like this garden border (second image from the bottom) with white hydrangeas (‘Annabelle’), agapanthus, salvias and echinops, and some sort of ornamental grass at the back.

Hydrangeas like rich, moist but free-draining soil in partial shade. Dig in plenty of compost before planting and keep them well watered during the growing season.

Pale blue hydrangea

I LOVE this bouquet with its pale blue hydrangeas against soft whites, creams and pale greys. It looks to me like the double hydrangea ‘Forever’ from the You-Me series. These hydrangeas are intriguing. When the flowers first open the plant looks a lot like the lace cap-type hydrangea. But as the flowers continue to open, the large double flowers completely cover the stem, creating a full mop-top of colour.

The other flowers in this bouquet include roses, cosmos, ranunculus and the button-like silver flowers of brunia.

Created by and images via Jardine Botanic Floral Styling.

Subtly beautiful bouquet

Green and white wedding bouquet

I really adore this bouquet. It’s so simple but so, so elegant, with its dreamy creamy roses, white hydrangeas, green love-lies-bleeding (amaranth), sunflowers with the petals plucked off, and red berries from the hypericum plant.

Plucking the petals off sunflowers is a neat trick. Once the petals wilt, remove them and you can continue to enjoy the flower head for much longer.

This gorgeous photo comes from The Knotty Bride.

Plant Now: Hydrangeas

Pink hydrangeas
Lovely pink hydrangeasBlue hydrangeasBlue hydrangeas
Whether you like them white, blue, pink, red or purple, hydrangeas are hot right now. As soon as they make it onto the garden centre shelves, they’re straight out the door. Grab yourself a plant now and plant it in a partly shaded spot. The mop head hydrangeas (pictured) like moist but free-draining soil, so give them plenty of water, especially in the first year while they’re establishing a strong root system.

Photo credits: The top photo is from Yvonne Eijkenduijn’s photostream on Flickr; the second and fourth photos are from the dreamy blog, Dreamy Whites.

A case for baskets and boxes

basket of roses
Box of astilbes
I could kick myself for the number of baskets I’ve thrown out over the years. They come and go out of fashion, but right now they’re super hot in garden design. They make excellent (if temporary) herb planters and they marry well with colourful annuals like pansies and stock. They make a lovely ‘vase’ too – especially when roses are in the mix. Wooden boxes are equally hot, as you can see in the above creation. Both arrangements are by the talented Susan from Florali. The design with the basket is from here and the wooden box creation is from here.

Q&A: When do I prune my hydrangeas?

Red hydrangea
Q. When do I prune my hydrangeas?

A. I’m assuming you have Hydrangea macrophylla, either a mophead variety (as shown above) or a lacecap variety (which has flattened heads). These are the two most commonly grown hydrangeas in our backyards.

Pruning of mophead hydrangeas is often a matter of choice. Some gardeners like to prune in autumn (usually in warmer areas) to tidy their plants after flowering. Others prefer to prune in spring (best in frost-prone areas). Some just snip off the flower heads, and some don’t prune at all. In fact, macrophyllas don’t need pruning unless they’re old, large or becoming straggly. However, to keep them looking neat and tidy, [Read more…]

The versatile hydrangea

Hydrangeas and roses
Hydrangeas in tall vaseBicoloured hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are truly versatile flowers – and prolific, particularly when you have several bushes in your backyard. At the moment I’ve got them coming out my ears. Just as well I have a sizable glass and ceramic vase collection. Hydrangeas, apparently, last much longer in glass vases than metal ones. I can’t say I’ve tested the theory, but that’s from the Flower Council of Holland, so it must be true. If you’re not a fan of glass vases you can cheat by putting them inside larger containers or by tying pieces of bark around the vase, as above. No time to whip up a fancy, multi-bloom arrangement? Snip off the hydrangea flower heads and place them in a tall vase of water. So simple and so chic.

White hydrangeasRed hydrangeas and anthuriumshydrangeas and carnations
White hydrangeas are my absolute favourite. White hydrangeas in white ceramic vases. Although red hydrangeas come a very close second. Above, red hydrangeas mix with red chrysanthemums and waxy, red anthuriums. The bottom photo shows a mix of carnations, lisianthus and baby’s breath (gypsophila). Nice.

Want to know how to change the colour of your hydrangeas? Click here.

Insanely beautiful flowers

Hydrangea vase

Spot the handsome hydrangea and the sexy South American bulb in this photo-worthy floral display. The hydrangea you’ve met before, but the bulb? Commonly known as ‘glory of the sun’, its botanical name is Leucocoryne purpurea. According to Parva Plants, it produces a few needle-like leaves in autumn “followed later by tall thin wiry stems boasting up to 8 long-lasting fragrant, papery blooms in shades of violet or maroon”. Outstanding!