How To Have Happy Hydrangeas

Inspired by our hand-drawn hydrangea print, learn to grow and care for these beautiful florals. 


This month our Design Team drew inspiration from Gertrude Jekyll, an influential gardener of the Arts & Crafts Movement. One of our most exciting prints can be found on our beautiful Folk Craft Dress which features hand drawn hydrangeas. We took a trip to Burncoose Gardens, not far from our design studios, to learn more about the flowers that inspired us, and how to care for them.

Folk Craft Dress by Seasalt Cornwall. Featuring our handcrafted hydrangea print.

Burncoose was the first house built by the Williams family after James Williams moved from Wales to Stithians around 1654. The garden at Burncoose was largely created between 1890 and 1916 with hydrangeas being recorded as far back as 1896 when Mrs Powys Rogers noted blue varieties. At that time the plant was recorded to be 35 years old with 725 flowers. This particular bloom is believed to be the popular Joseph Banks variety, named after Sir Joseph Banks who introduced the first hydrangea from a Chinese garden in 1798.  It’s thought this very hydrangea still grows in the garden today.

Blue hydrangeas at Burncoose House

A common sight across much of Cornwall, hydrangeas are easy to grow and will tolerate full sun or full shade (although whites and blues will discolour in full sun). The real excitement comes with discovering which shade your hydrangea will bloom. Pinks and reds are popular across the Cornish coast due to the light sandy soil and a pH of around 6.5.  Blue flowers can be found in soil that is more acidic and contains peat with a pH of around 5.

Pruning your hydrangeas

Hydrangeas enjoy being cut back and you should always prune out old dead flowers, recommends Mr Williams from Burncoose. The best time for this is in March when the sap is rising. The idea is to cut back the stem only to the first pair of good buds which may take you a little way down the stem, removing one or two old buds closer to the flower. Where you have too many stems which are too thick you can prune them out completely. Just avoid pruning too hard where you would be effectively removing the flower buds for the coming season.

If they get tall and straggly cut them back in autumn or very early spring, but be aware the flowers will not come back immediately, when they do they may well be larger than before.

Mopheads and Lacecaps

The two most common type of hydrangea are the Mopheads and Lacecaps, however the variety of flower they produce can differ massively. Here are some of our favourites.

 

Hot Chocolate (a new type with beautiful chocolate coloured leaves)

Bare walls can also benefit from hydrangeas with help from these climbing species.

Climbing Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas can be a good basis for a summer flowering border and mix well with Spiraea, Fuchsia and are a great backdrop for Astilbes, Hostas or Phlox to provide an interesting colour contrast. Time to get planting!

Just some of the beautiful hydrangeas from Burncoose and Caerhays

With thanks to Burncoose and Mr Williams for his knowledge and insight on hydrangeas. You can find out what other talks and events are on at Burncoose House on their website and on the Caerhays page.

 

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