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It's Your Fault, Carolyn

I was out in the garden yesterday, swinging the pick axe. October has been fairly dry, and the clay soil has become like concrete. Yet not all of it is like that. There are plenty of places I have been improving for years, adding compost and mulch with the seasons, and in these areas the shovel will slice through with satisfying ease. But not the spot I chose to dig. Oh, no. That particular spot was all native, hard enough to test the metal of any shovel. It was time for the heavy, sharp pick axe.

It's all Carolyn's fault. This fellow blogger, of Carolyn's Shade Gardens, and whose professional opinion I enormously respect, commented on the following photo I published in my June post, A Look at the Front Garden. In my acid soil the 'Endless Summer' hydrangea is bright blue:

Carolyn said she wished the blue hydrangea was next to the blue bench, which is located in another part of the front garden. Of course! Technicolor! Why hadn't I thought of that? Yet there's no place for the bench next to the hydrangea, and I didn't want to move the large shrub. However, I remembered Carolyn's comment when I saw a small 'Endless Summer' hydrangea for sale this week. The plant even had a few hot house induced blooms for instant gratification, despite the fall weather. Here in Alabama, October is the perfect month for planting shrubs, so I determined to buy this one and plant it next to the blue bench.

So Carolyn, it's your fault I was huffing and puffing and swinging the pick axe like a member of a chain gang. I hope it's worth it! Here's the results of my efforts:

One can't tell from the photo, but the little hydrangea is several feet from the bench to allow room for growth. 'Endless Summer' will turn pink in basic soil and blue in acid. There's no guarantee it will be the same shade of blue as the original one, but I think it will be pretty whatever the color turns out to be. I amended the soil with some good, home-cooked compost, and I watered it well. Hydrangeas need a lot of water, so I'll be diligent to keep it hydrated. Cooler temperatures will help it to become well established before next summer's heat. 

I hope the combination blue hydrangea/blue bench will live up to my vision. And to Carolyn's. I have been blogging for two years now, as of October 5, and in that time I have received many good tips and ideas from other garden bloggers. Thank you, Carolyn, and to you all who have supported and encouraged me and whose creative endeavors keep my own plans blossoming. Happy blogging and more gardening to you!


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Reader Comments (23)

Well done, Deb! Carolyn, that was a terrific idea. It's a match made in heaven.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBernieh

I feel for you out there with a pick ax. We too have rock hard clay soil and I dread planting anything larger than an annual. I have been conditioning the soil every year with scores of compost and it reverts back over time, which is expected in our area anyway. I love hydrangea and have planted many, but the color they present each year varies greatly due to our alkaline soils. I do use the farm's pine needles as a mulch, and that helps them stay mostly blue. You are lucky to have acidic soil for them. Endless Summer is the variety I plant for clients. You can not beat that long lasting display.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

I'm blushing, but I am glad to be of service. I was commenting that the bench and the hydrangea were so close in color and the color looks great in your garden. I think that the combination will be beautiful. Everything you do in your garden is beautiful. I will have to think very carefully about my comments in the future if they are going to provoke action in people's gardens :-).

Happy Second Blogaversary!

Blue is my favourite colour in a garden. The bench sings against the plants, and the hydrangea adds another thread to the harmony.

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElephant's Eye

Happy anniversary! Adding compost to the soil will raise the ph, so I hope you get pinkish blue flowers. Whatever color they are, they'll be beautful!!

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCasa Mariposa

A truly wonderful idea! Hip hip hooray for Carolyn. :) And you get the award for use of the most serious digging implement; I usually let my hubby wield the pick ax. Good for you!

This is the best time for planting in my opinion. Though, I will admit to having more trouble than normal this week getting outside as our temps have plunged to the 40's... But the gardening urge will rise sometime, I am sure.

Happy gardening,

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWife, Mother, Gardener

It's amazing how quickly two years can pass in the garden, and in the blogging universe. Congratulations! The hydrangea and bench complement each other very well. I suspect with your woodland soils it will turn a little more blue as it ages and grows. I still have quite a lot of fall planting to do myself, although thankfully this is the first garden I don't usually need a pick axe to plant with. This one has much more sand than clay, and for that, I'm very grateful. Hope you can have a chance to rest your sore muscles this weekend!

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCurbstone Valley Farm

Looks great ... worth the effort. Of course that's easy for me to say!

October 21, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoene

Deb - Happy 2nd BlogAnniversary
Great idea from Carolyn.
I always ask visitors what's the first thing they think when they look at my garden because I work to closely in it to really see it. The honest ones tell me that the patio needs weeding ...

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterb-a-g

That is a great idea! I like the complement of the blue with blue, but any hydrangea would be pretty next to a bench.

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sage Butterfly

Happy blogaversary, Deb! The bench looks very light, and I like it!

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTatyana

When I saw your post title I thought I was in serious trouble... actually relieved as I read further. I'm not used to sharing my name, only met a few in my lifetime. Carolyn of Shade Gardens made a great call... and that blue bench is stunning, and even more so now with the hydrangea. Looking forward to seeing it next season when it fills up the space a bit more. Your gardens are always exquisite, Deb.

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

What a lovely combination, hope your hydrangea stays blue for you, it should in your woodland. That's what I like since I joined Blotanical, all the support and ideas that come through cyber space, the inspiration from everyone is wonderful !

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Mulligan

A wonderful combination! (PS: I "blame" Carolyn for my obsession with many plants :)

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

I LOVE to play with color echoes, actually enjoying these more monochromatic vignettes than bright contrast these days. I'd love to copy this - the bench would be fine, but the hydrangea gone in minutes thanks to the deer.

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Ah Carolyn is wise. :) The combination looks beautiful now and will only get better as the bush matures.

October 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetbay

Congratulations on your 2 years of blogging! It takes a lot more dedication than others think and so I'm very impressed with those who have been able to carry on for so long.

The hydrangea/bench combo is a good idea. Thanks for the tip about the colors and acidity. I didn't know that. Does it apply to all hydrangeas?

October 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBom

A great idea! The hydrangea will look beautiful there. I love that blue bench!
Happy two year anniversary!

October 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIndie

Wow.another year has gone by, amazing how fast that happened. I have enjoyed reading about your garden over the last two years, and hope you continue for many more. Looking forward to seeing your technicolour dream!

October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah at Kilbourne Grove

Well done. The color is gorgeous, and it does go beautifully with the bench.

Blue or pink, it will look great beside your lovely bench :) And I think that pick axe wielding was so worth it!

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark and Gaz

How utterly lovely, and well worth the hard work.

October 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet/Plantaliscious

What amazing color in that Hydrangea. It took my breath away! (and what a fabulous idea to place this treasure near the bench)

November 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShyrlene
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