Dear Hydrangea Enthusiasts,

Welcome to the March 2006 edition of Hydrangeas Plus® newsletter.  

Sad News
Our founding matriarch has passed away.   On March 2nd, Penny McHenry passed away in her home from cancer.  Penny was the founder of the American Hydrangea Society based on Atlanta, Georgia.  I had the honor of meeting her for the first time last year at the Hydrangea Conference in Georgia.  What a lady!  Penny was the original and tireless hydrangea advocate.  I doubt that any one person has done for any variety of plant life what Penny did for hydrangeas.  Penny will be surely missed!  Please see the memorial link at
This is the Atlanta Journal Constitution article from Saturday, March 4th.  Don't miss this wonderful article about Penny, her life and her hydrangeas.  

Memorial for Penny McHenry
I just received a note from Genia Ryan, the current American Hydrangea Society President, about Penny's service and memorial.
Hello Hydrangea Friends and AHS Members:

I want to provide you with information about Thursday's memorial service for Penny McHenry.  Also, I've provided contact information should you want to make a donation in memory of Penny.
The service will be on Thursday, March 9, 2006, at the Shallowford Presbyterian Church.  The church is located at 2375 Shallowford Rd., NE, Atlanta GA  30345.  The service will start at 4:00 p.m. 

The Atlanta Botanical Garden is honoring Penny by naming the new hydrangea collection in Penny's memory, Penny McHenry Hydrangea Collection.
Please indicate on your check that your donation is in memory of Penny McHenry and send it to the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Collection.  Please mail your donation to:

Atlanta Botanical Garden
1345 Piedmont Ave.
Atlanta, GA  30309

We encourage you to make your donation to the new hydrangea collection at ABG.  However, you can also make donations to the American Hydrangea Society, P.O. Box 986, Grayson, GA  30017.  Please indicate that your donation is in memory of Penny McHenry.


Genia Ryan, President
American Hydrangea Society

Happenings around Oregon
Spring has decided to take a vacation for a few more weeks.  We had an 19 degree day back in mid February.  We were all frantically covering our plants and hoping for the best.  Upon inspection, we are doing very, very well.  I can't remember the last time we had frost in March but we did have it on March 1st and another round is expected this weekend.  But keep those orders coming.  Everything is protected from the frost and looking fine.

March is typically a great time to plant for those zone 7, 8 and 9 gardens.  Be sure that your frost has past before you plant to ensure that the buds (future flowers) don't freeze.  If you watch the weather and notice that a frost is close (usually 35 degrees and below), grab an old bed sheet or light blanket and cover those tender buds.  Be careful when you put on and take off the covering.  The buds are very tender and break off easily with too much handling.  We are also using anti-transpiration products to keep as must moisture in the plant as possible.  Our product is organic and has no chemicals.  Green power!

Yard Garden Patio Show in February was a great success.  Welcome all our new customers.  We will be at Fir Point Farms in Aurora, Oregon at Gardenpalooza Saturday, April 1st (no fooling) from 8am to 4pm.  Come visit us at Fir Point on Arndt Road.  I'll pick some special varieties just for the occasion.  Especially Penny Mac, in honor of Penny McHenry.

Annual ‘Overstocks’ spring sale is April 28rd-May 13th, 8 to 5 everyday here at the nursery.  Directions to follow.

Hydrangea news - upcoming gatherings for Hydrangea Lovers
American Hydrangea Society
held at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens - next meeting to be announced.

Mid-South Hydrangea Society (Tennessee) -  Membership/Newsletter Caroline Brown 683-9766 or at [email protected]
March 11th - Memphis Area Master Gardeners spring fever event  - Hydrangea booth
March 18th - Hydrangea walk and clean up with Pruning class
April 10th - Dr. Dirr presentation  - Doors open at 5:30pm, limited space so reserve now!  ONLY 100 seats left
April 21st - 23rd - Memphis Botanical Garden plant sale
June 17th - 2nd annual Garden Tour

Blue Ridge Hydrangea Society (North Carolina)  -  President/Founder: Linda Shapiro [email protected]  (828) 890-0880

Saturday, April 29, 2006 - Guest Speaker: Dick Bir  Topic: “What Works…Hydrangeas That Survive and Thrive in WNC”.
Time: 1:00 P. M.
Place: NC Arboretum  Directions: Call The NC Arboretum at (828) 665-2492
$6.00 parking charge per car if you are not a member of the NC Arboretum.

late July/early August - Hydrangea Tour - Cindy Hudgins of “A Touch of the Mountains”, will give us a tour of her working hydrangea field in bloom. Directions will follow
September, Dates to be announced via WNC Agricultural Center NC State Flower and Garden Show- 2 weeks of hydrangea lectures.  WNC Agricultural Center at (828) 687-1414 Ext.210.
Saturday, October 28, 2006 - Guest Speaker: Mal Condon of Nantucket Hydrangea Farm Nursery     Topic: “Got Hydrangeas”?Place: NC Arboretum Time: 1:00 P.M.

Northwest Hydrangea Society
June - date to be determined - here at Hydrangeas Plus

Do you know of other gatherings where HYDRANGEAS are the topic?  Please let us know.  We'll publish in our newsletter and get the word out!  Please, just Hydrangea gatherings.  Contact me if you need some information about Hydrangeas.  We provide FREE information.  Hydrangea Lovers, unite!

AOL Update
We aren't the only ones upset about the AOL development.

Remember last month - We may soon lose some our valued newsletter subscribers.  AOL and Yahoo have announced that they will soon begin CHARGING us to send our newsletter to you.  Even though we are an "OPT IN" (that means you sign up and we don't buy email addresses) sender, they will soon require the use of an e-mail verification service imposing a per subscriber charge for every email we send.  I am a huge fan of AOL and what they have done for internet access but this latest development is simply too much for a small business like ours to get on board with.  I don't know the specifics but from what I've read, we will be subject to this charge because of the number of subscribers we have with AOL and Yahoo addresses.   We have had trouble with AOL in the past when they blocked us as 'SPAM' (in spite of our OPT IN policy).  I'm not sure what can be done about this but if you are an AOL or Yahoo customer and want to keep receiving our monthly email newsletters, please also subscribe with another email address.  We don't want to lose you. Alternatively, you might want to consider contacting either of these providers directly and expressing your displeasure with this policy.

Please go to this website and let them know you're not happy with the recent development.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q:  I'd like to have one plant like Nikko, with bright blue, also one plant that has small mopheads , such as two inches across that is a bright dark blue

A:  Be sure to check the pH of your soil.  Even with my recommendation, you'll need a pH between 5.5 and 6.0 (and available aluminum) to get blue blooms.
The smallest blooms are the Hornli & Pia.  these are also the smallest hydrangeas.  They both have blooms about two or three inches across.  I have yet to get that Pia to go blue.  I haven't tested the Hornli for myself buy many books describe it as pink or blue, depending on the soil.
The next size plants (I call them semi dwarf) are a little bigger growing to 3 or 4 feet and having blooms about 3 inches to 5 inches.  The Enziandom and Blue Danube have successfully turned blue with acidic soil and available aluminum.

Q:  Michael Dirr mentions confusion in the trade around some research done on Nikko Blue and winter hardiness.  He says that there was variation in performance - some reflowered and some didn't - and he suspected confusion in the trade.  Will the real repeat flowering hydrangea please stand up?  I have a customer in USDA 6, on the cusp of 7, that had to cut to 18" her Blue mopheads at the end of April due to winter kill, specifically split Bark and dead  Buds after repeated temperature spiking.  The name of cv is unknown and I suspect it's the mophead default around here, 'Nikko Blue'.  The darn things flowered 3 times last season after they were cut and when last seen in mid fall, were flowering again.  (I fear for this spring's flowers; should stop worrying since it's likely to recover again).  Do you have any thoughts on this repeat flowering?  Is there any other common Hortensia that would act like this?  THANKS.  
A:  There is HUGE variation in the industry.  I think some nurseries will call any blue mophead 'Nikko Blue'.  Customers don't like buying 'Blue Hydrangea' - they want a name.
Here's my theory.  Many of the (pastel) blue/pink hydrangeas with Asian heritage will flower on new and old growth.  Many come to mind - Nikko, Dooley, Penny Mac, Oak Hill, Decatur Blue, David Ramsey, All Summer Beauty, Bodensee, Bouquet Rose, Blauer Prinz, Kluis Superba, Otaksa.  Some of these are quite common.  I'm not sure all strains of these will bloom on new wood.  These are just the ones I have that have done it at some point.
Just in my discussions with other growers, there is a consensus that others can rebloom too - Fuji Waterfall, Coerulea, Lanarth White, Lilacina - again, pale or white hydrangeas.  Look for some of the new Japanese varieties - there are rumors that many of these will bloom on new wood, too.
Dr. Dirr is continuing his breeding program so look for more new wood blooming varieties in the future.  Bailey's is coming out in 2007 with Blushing Bride (cross of Endless Summer and Veitchii).  I hope to get some this summer.  I got a test plant and it was fabulous this summer.
Did you read the article by Dr. Richard Birr?  He's in mountainous NC and did some studies about which varieties actually bloomed well after a typical zone 6 winter.   I think it's on the CANR site =  Center for Applied Nursery Research in Athens, GA.

While in Georgia for the Hydrangea Conference, I spoke with Vickie Waters, Dr. Dirr's technician for a few decades.  She mentioned they are experiencing new wood blooms on several Serrata varieties.  Blue Deckle was the one that I've had that experience and she confirmed it.  Also, she mentioned Tiara.  I don't have that one but I do have Diadem.  Very close.  I thought that my Diadem would reflower but no confirm from Vickie on that one.
Serratas are great for areas with lots of late frost (TN, NC, KY).

Q:  I am interested in hydrangea flowers that dry well.  Could you let me know which ones they are?  As I read the descriptions of them, some you
do say and others you don't.  Should I assume that if you don't mention it they are not the best for drying?
A:   Most of the mopheads do dry and dry well.  The ones that I specifically describe as good dried varieties are just my favorites.

Here are my recommendations for dried flowers (based on my experience and experience of several of my dried flower grower customers but by no means, a comprehensive list)
Large size blooms
Paniculata Grandiflora
Bouquet Rose
Generale Vicomtesse
GB Kuhnert
Gertrude Glahn
Heinrich Seidel
King George
Madame Emile
Mathilda Gutges
Miss Hepburn
Oregon Pride
Princess Beatrix
Princess Juliana
Red Star
Souvenior de Presidente

Medium size blooms
Blue Danube
Forever Pink

Q:  Could you please tell me what is the variety of the blue lacecap you use on the home page of your website? I am in the process of choosing some blue lacecaps, and it is very beautiful. Thank you.
A:  That's the Fasan, in acidic soil.  It's usually a purple/blue in pH of about 5.7 or below.

Q:  Can you please tell me which varieties of mopheads are good to grow in zone 5. I bought 2 Dooleys and 1 All Summer Beauty last year from you. I also have Endless Summer. Are there any others?
A:  I've found that all the mopheads for zone 5 will look very similar.  Their habit is the same and the bloom colors will be the same.  I have some Penny Mac hydrangeas that are just as hardy as the Endless Summer, Dooley & All Summer Beauty that you've already purchased.  There are also varieties Oak Hill, Decatur Blue & David Ramsey that I will have in a few years. 
I'm hoping to get the new Endless Summer branded Blushing Bride.  It's a new wood bloomer that starts white and ages to a slight blue or pink, depending on the Ph of your soil.  The major release of this variety will be in 2007.
If you want to protect your hydrangeas, you could probably grow any of the zone 6 mopheads.  The French hybrids (darker colored mopheads) are usually the most tender to your zone 5 temperatures and will definitely need added protection.  The Asian influenced mopheads (Nikko Blue, Otaksa, Bodensee just to name a few) are more hardy but will probably need protection from cold winds.

Q:  I am wondering if there is something I should do to protect hydrangeas that were planted less than a year ago.  I live in Portland and the weather report is grim.
A:  I covered my plants that were leafing out with felt/frost cloth.  If your plants are really leafed out, that's the best option.  This is the 'late spring frost' that isn't good for hydrangeas.
If you don't have felt, use an old blanket or bed sheet.  And tie the base so the wind doesn't blow it away.  It doesn't have to be tight but snug fitting is best.

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Kristin VanHoose
Hydrangeas Plus®