I dearly love hydrangeas. They invoke an old fashioned, timeless beauty in any garden and to me there is no other shrub that can top the loveliness of their deep green, thick leaves and their unbelievably beautiful, complicated and romantic blossoms. Last year, we revamped our gardens on the north side of our house by pulling out old spindly shrubs and started fresh by planting several different varieties of hydrangea. This year, I added some annual impatiens (heavy bloomers) to compliment the hydrangeas and, this season, the garden did not disappoint. As you can see, some plants bloomed better than others and a few bloomed very early in the season, their flowers now long gone. Others were prolific bloomers and kept this little garden looking gorgeous all summer.
Now that autumn is just around the corner, it’s time to preserve their beauty by drying the blooms. One note: You don’t want to dry hydrangeas when they are at their peak color and very fresh, although you can certainly enjoy cut blooms in water filled vases all season. At that stage they just won’t dry properly and will have to be discarded once they die. By mid-August or early September the remaining blossoms should be already drying on the plant so mother nature has already started the process for you. There are several ways to preserve them…just google it and you’ll find a dozen different ways. My way however is simple. I just make sure it hasn’t rained recently so the blooms are dry and I cut the stems above any buds I might see. Some people cut them longer, however I find I really don’t need them to be 18″. I found this cute little gathering basket recently at Ikea and I can fit quite a few in it. I love all the different colors of the blooms.
After I have all my stems cut, I remove all green leaves with scissors and also remove all the little white spiders who love to live in mine. Just shake them gently over the sink to accomplish this. Today I filled a white pitcher with water and submerged the stems of four blossoms. I’ll just let these sit for about three weeks until they’re dry enough, then get rid of any remaining water, wash the pitcher and replace the blooms so I can enjoy them all winter.
Another three stems I placed in a decorative box in my kitchen to air dry. I have a set of four of these boxes hung vertically, all with different herbs and their meanings printed on them, and I love them. You can also gather a few stems and tie the bottoms with string, then hang them in a cool dark (and dry) place and they’ll be vase ready in about 3 weeks. I prefer to see them from the get-go.If you’ve never tried growing hydrangeas, you really should consider it. They aren’t hard to care for and once you get them established, you can enjoy their gorgeous blossoms in every season with little effort.