Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Next Big Thing?

Posted by Picasa A year ago I breathlessly said that Hydrangea Endless Summer (pictured below) was perhaps the single biggest advance in northern horticulture, since us snow folk could now have glorious blue mopheads, just like the southerners (about this same time I developed a taste for Dr. Pepper and Moon Pies, and considered putting a gun rack in the back window of my truck... of course I'd have to buy a gun, then). At any rate, what a difference a year makes; now there are three newer mopheads that are probably superior to Endless Summer... Early Sensation Pink (pictured above), Red, and Double Pink. Endless Summer tends to be kind of lanky and floppy if it gets much shade, but wilts like crazy in the hot sun; not the most attractive thing to see in a midwest garden, with your beautiful blue mophead looking like it's just been poisoned. Also, while advertised as a summer-long rebloomer, here in the upper midwest, its repeat blooms usually appear in the fall just about the time the temperature drops to 28 degrees. The new hybrids are billed as slightly smaller, with stronger stems and thicker leaves, so there is less wilting and flopping, and the individual florets are larger, with also larger flower heads. My picture of Early Sensation doesn't do it justice, as the plant is only a foot tall, out of the pot. It is also said that the new hybrids rebloom much quicker, and I suspect this is true, as the newer growth on my plant is already taking off to the point where it somewhat obscures the older flower heads... hopefully this is not a problem in larger, established plants. I've been told that Early Sensation Red is indeed sensational, and that's the one I'm waiting for. On a similar topic, a lot of garden blogs have been scolding Burpee, because they purchased, then closed, Heronswood Nursery. A few years ago I bought a small hydrangea serrata from Heronswood that Dan found growing at a very high altitude, offering hope of increased hardiness (actually, as I recall, Dan had just climbed 9,000 feet on a switchback trail, to the fog-shrouded Goolang Mountain pass, and found himself wandering through a forest of rare Poobah trees, when he slipped on the wet rocks, crashing into a ravine, where his eyes picked out a patch of bright pink in the gloom, and it was this hydrangea). At any rate, this little hydrangea blooms reliably here in Iowa, with delicate little heads of pink flowers (it is just opening in this picture at the bottom). I suspect Burpee will do nothing with this genetic material. Sigh.

Keep us posted, Don. It seems so many of the "next big things" don't live up to their promise. I like to wait until some more adventurous souls have road-tested them for me.
I THINK the Early Sensation hydrangeas will be the real deal... time will tell.
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