August 19, 2012

Maine Gardener: Hydrangeas long-lasting and colorful, but 'the flop' detracts


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"I am also very fond of 'Twist 'n Shout' because of the lacecap flower. It has a very strong, deep-blue color with red stems that are great, and I like how the foliage adds to the fall landscape."

Bate mentioned "Blushing Bride," but a lot of the macrophylla hydrangeas, including "Endless Summer," can be either pink or blue depending on the acidity of the soil. The more acidic the soil, the deeper blue the flowers will be.

Several fertilizer products are used to let people pick the color of their blooms, but you also can add lime if you want pink or sulphur if you want blue. Or you can just plant them and see what you get.

LOCAVORE DAY at the Atwell garden went well. The Cumberland County Extension made the right choice to hold the event on Saturday despite the forecast that the better day was going to be Sunday. Rule No. 1: Never cancel anything based on a forecast.

We forgot to keep count of the visitors, but Nancy and I agree it was close to 75 -- which surprised us, because fewer than 50 tickets had been sold as of the Tuesday before the event.

People seemed equally interested in vegetables and flowers. A Master Gardener specialist in worm composting was on site all day. People who came in the morning got to try some applesauce canned by Extension volunteers.

I hadn't realized that because the Extension had listed root cellars as a topic, I was going to have to give the talk on that topic. Our root cellar is made out of our cellar bulkhead area, and I wish I had straightened up the cellar some. 

Although the garden was almost weed-free on Wednesday, the wet weather on Friday when I couldn't weed allowed a lot of them to sprout, and I kept noticing weeds as I took people through the vegetable garden. We enjoyed meeting other gardeners and showing off our gardens, but we are definitely not going to be on another tour for another year or so. We need some rest.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer who gardens in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:


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