Hydrangeas don’t grow very well in the yards I’ve had in San Diego. It’s too sunny (oh, boo hoo) and gets too hot. So, naturally, hydrangeas (and peonies) are the pinnacle of Spring flowers to me.
I tried planting some at the old house. Multiple times. The poor plants would last a month or two, but as soon as summer came, they’d die. It finally occurred to me to grow them as container plants and move them in or out of the sun as the seasons ebbed and flowed.
Four years ago I bought a large hydrangea plant at Lowe’s and placed it on the front porch of our old house. It was a beautiful plant with huge white flowers. Since it was on a covered porch, the hydrangea did really well. At some point in the fall, I forgot to water it and it went into a coma. When it looked brown and sad, I consigned it to plant purgatory along a fence in the backyard.
And promptly forgot about it.
We must’ve had some rainfall that winter, because when Spring rolled around, the plant had a bunch of new shoots and green leaves. Since it clearly had a will to live, I brought it back to the front porch and took care of it for the next few months.
Again it bloomed with those giant white flowers.
Again it seemed to die in the September heat and Santa Anas.
We’ve been locked in this cycle for three years.
I almost trashed it when we moved, but at the last minute, I brought the plant to the new townhouse and set it on the back porch. A couple of months ago, it sent out some tentative green leaves which promptly burned in the sun. I’ve been dragging the pot all over the little back porch trying to find its sweet spot.
Right now it’s against the back fence under the neighbor’s overhanging ficus tree. (I’ve never seen a ficus this big; it’s at least eight feet tall and four feet wide. The neighborhood cats hide on the fence under the branches and taunt the dogs in the neighbor’s yard.) The shade from the tree protects my hydrangea from the sun and I water it regularly.
It’s coming back again with green leaves popping out from under the dead, dry branches.
Honestly, I’m impressed. Despite the neglect and poor circumstances, this hydrangea keeps coming back. And even blooming.
It seems there’s always hope.