Of Hydrangeas and Hollyhocks

This is one of those good new/bad new posts. The bad news is that it looks like our harsh winter did a number on the hydrangeas in the perennial border. Here's what the big one looked like back in June:


That's a whole bunch of dead sticks, with a tiny bit of green growth at the base. For comparison, look at the photos from June last year: that same hydrangea is pretty well filled in with green leaves along its branches around the same time of year. 

I let the sticks stay as they were for a really long time, just to be sure that they were really dead and not just sleeping. The thing with hydrangeas is that they set buds to flower long before winter, and if you prune them off, you are cutting away all of your future, summertime flowers.  

But I think it's fair to say that these are goners. All the hydrangeas around town have big, beautiful blooms now that it's July. Here's what our looks like:

So it's not dead, but I think the odds of any flowers this year are slim to none. Our younger and smaller hydrangea is in the same boat. 

Meanwhile, there is some unexpected good news in the perennial border. I have tried for years to get some red hollyhocks to grow, with no luck at all. The place where I planted them was, I think, too hot and dry in the afternoons. Last year I moved a single spindly one to the shadier side of the border, where I forgot all about it.

It never bloomed, but it didn't die, either. And now look: 

One red hollyhock finally came up after all! I don't think this makes a great specimen plant, so I'm going to let it go to seed and hope that next year there might be a bunch that I can encourage to grow along the back of the border. 

Even though there's only one, it's very pretty!


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