Debra Prinzing

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A hydrangea grows in Zone 10

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Today, all I have to share are these photographs of my sole hydrangea plant. This pinky charmer lives on our covered porch, surviving the heat, I guess, because of its deeply shaded existence.

It is 90 degrees outside as I write at 7:30 p.m. With adequate water, this hydrangea seems to cope with close-to-the-century-mark temperatures. But if it wasn’t protected by the overhanging roof, it would be miserable.

In contrast, hydrangeas in Seattle can handle a few days of excessive heat, here and there. But their blooms and leaves get crispy when subjected to sustained hot-and-sunny summer conditions. All the more reason why I cherish owning at least one non-crispy specimen here in Zone 10!

This hydrangea was a “housewarming” gift nearly 2 years ago, given by my husband’s boss on the occasion of our move to SoCal. To me, “Miss Hydrangea,” it seemed ironic to receive a no-name, hothouse variety in a 1-gallon pot, cloaked in that crinkly-metallic florist paper. It nearly toppled over because the few enormous mop-head blooms were wildly out of proportion to the size of the plant itself. In my former garden (seen at left and right), I was lucky to grow several cool Japanese hydrangeas that were gifted to me by friend Richie Steffen of the Miller Garden. These babies seemed to think they were still growing in their native soil because they exploded in size over the period of a few years – only to crowd out the nearby path. (Although, I must confess that the huge mophead hydrangea shown here was also a housewarming gift that arrived in a 1-gallon florist’s pot: It was given by our then-new neighbor David when we completed construction and threw ourselves a move-in party in 1998!).

Back to this pink hothouse hydrangea, which sat on my kitchen counter and seemed to be mocking me. If she could have spoken, she would have said: “You think you’re such a great gardener? Well, guess what? No one here cares that you grew a dozen stunning hydrangea shrubs, not to mention two climbing hydrangeas, in your old Seattle garden. Try keeping me alive here in Zone 10!”