Hydrangeas for American Gardens
Hydrangeas fill an important niche in the garden. With one cultivar or another in bloom from May until frost, hydrangeas let you brighten the backdrop of your landscape for the entire growing season. What's more, the plants range widely in size, so there's one for almost any garden, and the flowers cover a spectrum of colors from blue through red and pink to pure white.
Hydrangeas for American Gardens, by Michael Dirr (Timber Press, 2004; $30), is a comprehensive guide, covering the early history of hydrangeas and highlighting the most popular species and cultivars. Dirr traces the ancestry, discusses the attributes, and makes recommendations of specific hydrangea cultivars for specific gardening regions. He speaks with authority and candor, making the entire book both educational and entertaining. I'm going to follow his advice for successfully drying the blossoms, and test his theory on changing flower colors with soil amendments.
Tool or Gardening Product
Velcro Plant Ties
Securing plants to stakes can be trying, especially when plants keep growing and ties need to be adjusted. The self-gripping ties offered by Velcro are an easy alternative to plastic or wire ties and can be cut to any length. Durable and weather-resistant, these ties can be quickly adjusted and repositioned as your plants grow. I recycle my Velcro ties by collecting them at the end of the growing season and sticking them back on the roll. Available in garden centers and home improvement centers, the retail price for a 30-foot roll is less than $3.