Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If You Were a Hydrangea, in What Kind of Soil Would You Grow?

Growing up in the South and being an avid gardener, I have always had a love and appreciation for flowers. Certain blooms and blossoms are just associated with the beautiful, genteel gardens of the South. One flower that has always been a favorite and fascination of mine is the hydrangea, that mop-headed, vibrant beauty that is a veritable showpiece on the lawn, against a picket fence or in the garden.  From their leaves to their showy blooms, everything about them is as sweet, bold and fearless as Southern women, pressing their heads together in quiet conversation, outfitted in pastel attire, enjoying a sunny day in the garden, waiting to shout a "Hello!" to passersby.

Hydrangeas are Diverse in Color from
White, Pink, Red, Lavender 
and Periwinkle, to Deep Purple

In researching and growing hydrangeas, I found that certain species are affected by the amount of acid in the soil. The effect of acid is so profound that it can, literally, change the color of the blossoms! The more acidic the soil, the deeper blue/purple the blossoms become. A neutral pH can yield a pink or red blossom. White blossoms need a more alkaline soil to maintain their snowy brilliance. Add aluminum sulfate to the soil for deep blue and purple flowers. For pink or red, add lime or superphosphate. A very important factor in the outcome is that the desired enhancer must be added long before the blooms appear.

The thinker, observer and writer in me could not help but notice that we could learn a lot from the hydrangea. We can bloom where we are planted, but what will the world see when our blossoms appear? We must cultivate ourselves and put desirable traits, thoughts and values into our beings before we bloom. Once we bloom, we must carefully tend, prune and feed ourselves on that which is nourishing so that we remain strong, brilliant additions to the garden. The soil in which we grow or fail can be found in the company we keep - those who will affect how we blossom. Some people are such amazing additions to our lives that their nurturing promotes blooms that are healthier, bigger and more vibrant, catching the attention of even the most casual passersby. Others can poison our fertile soil, stunt our growth and kill our roots so that we fail to flourish at all or allow our once-brilliant blossoms to become brittle leaves, dried stems and hollow, fragile anchors that leave us vulnerable to strong winds and storms. Add too much of the wrong elements and the blossom and its purpose can be destroyed. Add an abundance of the right elements and the flower, in turn, adds more beauty to the garden.

Be careful where you plant and how you tend to your hydrangea so that you are happy with the outcome. Growth takes time, patience and tender loving care. Appearance depends on what you choose to put into, or take out of, the soil in which you plant it. All colors are desirable and pleasing when healthy, vibrant and adding beauty to the world around them. It's okay if some are a little different from others, for uniqueness adds a beauty all its own.

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