If you have been to Wren's Gate, you might notice that there is so much shade. For a long time I was under the impression that hydrangea prefers shade. But then I began to notice the amazing hydrangea on my friend Vio's farm. www.harvestandblooms.com/ There is a beautiful stand of old hydrangea in front of her farm house. Many hydrangea prefer full sun to part shade. This made me think of the hydrangea I have tucked between the chicken coop and the back of the shop that has NEVER, not once bloomed. Have I moved it? No. On the list? Yes.
So let's figure out why your hydrangea aren't blooming. First, what type of Hydrangea did you plant? If you are like me, that plant tag went in your pocket and then through the wash and is now lost somewhere behind the dryer.
Does your hydrangea bloom earlier or later in the summer? What shape are the flowers? What shape are the leaves?
Blooms on old wood and therefore earlier in the summer-
Prune out weak or winter-damaged stems in early spring. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 6. Notice this! Here in Central Illinois we are Zone 5b. So your Aunt Florence may have the perfect micro climate that stays warm and protected all winter but we can't all be Aunt Florence. From the Missouri Botanical Garden: Hydrangea can be grown in USDA Zone 5 with protection (e.g., mulch and burlap wrap), but may lose significant numbers of flower buds or die to the ground in harsh winters, thus respectively impairing or totally destroying the bloom for the coming year. Plants grown in USDA Zone 5 should be sited in sheltered locations (Aunt Florence's house) and given additional winter protection, like mulch and burlap, for the purposes of minimizing the risk of loss of significant numbers of flower buds or possible die-back to the ground in an extremely harsh winter. Regardless of protective measures taken, most bigleaf hydrangeas simply will not bloom (or will bloom poorly) in some years because of a variety of winter occurrences beyond the control of the gardener (e.g. low temperatures, sudden wide temperature fluctuations, icy conditions, late frosts).
So the thing here is, if you have those beautiful blue and pink balls of flowers, enjoy them in the years that they bloom for us and cut yourself some slack.
Blooms on new wood and later in the summer-
Species (Hydrangea arborescens) is native to southern Missouri. 'Annabelle' is a naturally occurring cultivar which was discovered in the wild near Anna, Illinois. I think this is why pollinators such as the bee above like them best.
Notes made from one of my most frequently used web sites: Missouri Botanical Garden
https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/plantfinder/plantfindersearch.aspx Accessed 14 Nov. 2020
At the end of February, a group of farmers came together for the first Growers Market at Decatur Brew Works. I really thought the event would end up with a handful of farmers standing around with a beer. That wouldn't have been terrible, but what happened was even better. People came who didn't know how a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) works, showed up. They asked great questions, signed up, and are on board. People who have lived in other communities and were looking for the same experiences here, showed up. People who are all about supporting local, eating local, and flowering local, showed up.
When this event was coming together, there was some concern with having 4 CSA options, 2 flower farms and the bonus of honey and beef all meeting the same customers. So from the flower farmer perspective, and I think this applies to the others farmers as well, there are 31,000 households in Decatur and that means 31,000 tables to provide with flowers and local food. Can you imagine what that might look like? Whoo, I can. And it is BIG.
Over The Rainbow Farms https://www.facebook.com/Over-The-Rainbow-Farm-318391878245846/ brought caramel corn that was the best. Bushel and Peck Wildflowers https://www.bushelandpeckwildflowers.com/ is a flower farm that is growing and knocking it out of the park. Maddox sweet corn http://www.maddoxsweetcornfarm.com/ has a CSA and should really have a count down clock for when their stands will open. Double D Farms https://double-d-farms-organically-grown.business.site/ sells out of their CSA every year because it is so good. Rubber Ducky Farms helped pull the event together. Rubberduckyfarms@gmail.com https://graized.com/ Graized beef is selling direct to consumer and also locally to Red Barn Kitchen https://www.redbarn.kitchen/ My boys love the honey sticks from McGrath Farms & Artisan Soaps. https://www.facebook.com/mcgrathfarms/ Let's keep building this community and these relationships until everyone has local food and local flowers on their dinner table.
And to be clear I am fairly competitive- I want to grow the best, tallest, earliest, prettiest and funkiest flowers out there, just not at the expense of building a locally grown movement in Macon County. On that note- Wren's Gate Subscriptions are available at https://www.wrensgate.com/store/c4/subscription
The Dirt - January - 2020
What I've loved, followed and saved:
https://www.instagram.com/josephmassie/ there is an image of a tablescape using green and white ammi majus that is gorgeous. Let's make one of our own this summer.
https://www.bowoodfarms.com/ in St. Louis. The cafe is getting a face lift this winter and I can't wait to see the new look. One of my necessary city stops. They have a garden center cat so they are for real. (all garden centers and bookstores must have a cat as part of the rating system)
https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3063&context=extension_curall Sustainable Manure and Compost Application: Garden and Micro Farm Guidelines https://www.instagram.com/usu_smallfarms/ Dr. Melanie Stock is providing much needed research for small farms and specifically flower farms with a grant from the ASCFG. The soil in Utah is much different from Illinois, but some really great information here.
https://www.wandawega.com/ to totally get lost down a beautiful rabbit hole, Camp Wandawega is a dream.
https://www.botanicalinterests.com/product/Sowing-Guides And finally, I love Botanical Interests seeds, art and the amount of information on a seed packet is astounding. The entire interior of the packet is filled with specific growing information. The link is to their sowing guides that help build my seed starting calendar each year. It took forever to pick just one seed packet example. You should sow some borage.
And happy sowing and Imbolic! Half way to spring!
Last season, I traded flowers for photography and you will be seeing many more of these outstanding photos from Laura Webb Photography. https://www.laurawebb.me/ If you have not been to Laura's site be prepared. She loves dogs as much as I do and you may be there for a bit.
A sharing economy may make you think of the big guys like air bnb or Uber but really we can do so much on a smaller scale. Dinner for yard work or design for a night out. There are many ways to improve our human connection with and without the internet. What are some ways that you have made a connection?