Not me, that’s for sure.
I’m known, in some circles, as somewhat of a hydrangea expert.
This fallacy has propagated itself based solely on my ability to grow big-ass Annabelle Hydrangeas. For anyone who knows anything about gardening, or hydrangeas specifically, it’s pretty funny. To my knowledge, it requires nothing more than buying the right kind, planting in a spot that receives at least some sun and cutting back in the fall so that the plants don’t get overgrown and floppy.
Suffice to say, I’m not a hydrangea expert.
In fact, my very own annabelle hydrangeas were all floppy and overgrown this summer. True, they had enormous chartreuse green heads on them, but they were all bent over and infringing on the path that goes around the barn, making travel in that sector precarious at best.
“What went wrong,” I wondered many times over the summer?
Well now I know. Yesterday, after finishing my work-work as much as humanly possible on such a gorgeous day, I went outside to cut them back and salvage any stems that hadn’t been turned brown by the first freeze. And I learned an amazing thing: my hydrangeas weren’t necessarily more floppy than normal. There were whole new plants everywhere, many growing so close to the edge of the retaining blocks that they had nowhere to go but to flop over the path.
As I set about to cutting them back — and this year I cut stems right to the ground, rather than leaving 6-8″ as I did last year, since I now think the shorter the stems the better — I vowed to ruthlessly cull all the “volunteer” shrubs.
In my wrath at the difficulty of of task, amidst loud groans and expletives (really, it’s a good thing I don’t have neighbors) I pulled back the rocks and landscape fabric to find roots everywhere!
Honestly, the closest comparison I have to what I saw was the matt-like roots of my “non-invasive” mint. And at each end of these lateral roots were little shoots of new hydrangea plants!
I hacked away mercilessly at the roots and the shoots as best I could without completely destroying the fabric. I think I failed in that attempt, but at least for now, all evidence of new plants are gone.
Of course, the trick going forward is to actually remember today’s discovery. Because I can totally picture myself next spring, in the wonder and joy of new growth, letting the volunteer plants go with the idea that I will dig them up and transplant them somewhere else. In fact, I can almost predict with certainty that that is what will happen. I can also predict with certainty that I will never transplant them and that I will ‘discover’ this whole scenario again next year with only a faint dawning in the back of my mind that perhaps I already knew this.
In fact, as I write this, that very thing is happening right now.
Well, chalk it up to another reason for writing this blog. It is rapidly becoming my memory, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “Google it.” Because really, how awesome would it be to Google your memory? If I keep this stupid thing up, that is just what I will be able to do.