(Pink, Red and White, Too)
I do hope you are keeping your mopheads safe and locked tight.
Perhaps an insurance policy, or maybe two
On them? A simple wire cage will never do.
One never knows when a thief will stalk in the night
And pilfer a single, stunning, blue,
Or an entire bush outright.
Ah, you are thinking, She has been gardening for too long in the sun.
Hush. Let me tell you the tale.
Not so long ago, these bloomnappers were truly alive and pruning.
They favored Cape Cod, where sea breezes keep beauties a-blooming
Where mists of minerals, unseen, like a gossamer veil,
And acid soils are ever fine-tuning
That electric blue hue to full-scale.
A cunning lot, these plant pirates.
They sharpen their shears, case their quarry by daylight
And slither in stealth by shadow of moonlight.
Many’s the time they’ve struck!
Many’s the bloom they’ve plucked,
Leaving nary a footprint, nary a track.
With the eyes of an owl, the speed of a skink.
They would choose the prize blues,
Leaving lesser contenders: white, purple, and pink
To the gardener-in-snooze,
Who wakened next morn
To plants tousled and torn.
Their trophies they sold to florists and crafters
Who fashioned bouquets or hung them from rafters
Till they were ready for wreaths or for swags.
And the rich scalawags?
They winked as they strolled to the bank
With their swag.
And that, Dear Reader, is the end of this tale
Of the Cape Cod robbers who left nary a trail.
No one was caught with a bundle of sticks,
But wait, I’ve just read that plant heists are widespread,
And cunning plant pirates, mean and ill-bred
Still carry big bags full of tricks.
Ah, but now I digress.
For I must tell you of mopheads and lacecaps,
all in full dress.
Victorians loved them, filled gardens and vases.
We kids picked bouquets, to us magic blue blazes
With zillions of petals that spoke of sweet summer bliss
And fresh peaches and picnics in secret green places.
We knew not of lacecaps, long gone from the scene.
Too modest, perhaps? Like an old-fashioned bonnet?
Though the lacey-like caps alight with wee blooms
Would fit snug as a crown for a fine fairy queen.
And the brim! With such trim! Oh the bobbing and dancing upon it,
Rainbows of sepals like a knight’s dashing plumes.
Then mopheads, those blue standard bearers,
began to be spurned
By wannabe gardeners. How could they have earned
Such disfavor? Too floppy? Too moppy? Of dubious taste
For the all-in-its-place tight-bound modern garden?
Will time-tested heirlooms, and passalongs too, soon be replaced?
Like the cavalry rider with impeccable timing
Martha herself heralded purples and mauves, priming
Gardeners to yearn for, return for those dreamy hydrangeas.
Once staples of blue, largely ignored, tucked in garden and farmyard,
They come now in rainbows, must-haves for designer-arrangers
Who may dye them and dry them, shape them and drape them
Till they woo us like sonnets once penned by The Bard.
Now mopheads and lacecaps are back, reign supreme,
With selections beyond any gardener’s wild dream.
And the colors!
Washes splash over blooms on warm summer days,
As delicate palettes paint glowing bouquets.
From Korea, Japan and yes, Germany, France
They bring to our gardens a sense of romance.
Deckle-edged Frillibet, or Ayesha (lilac-cupped)
Starbursts of Hanabi, white globes of Schwann
Bluest of blues Enziandom, Pink Elf’s short, sturdy reds,
Or the knockout rebloomers:
Endless Summer, Blushing Bride, Twist n shout.
Or Sister Theresa, Geisha, and that wild Lady in Red
Pale, elegant, Mme Emile Moulliere, robust Big Daddy, so dapper
Surely now, you are tempted to start a collection five-starred,
But remember, dear reader, be always on guard
Against that wily, that deft, that incomparable hydrangea bloomnapper.
You might also enjoy these (prose) entries on hydrangeas:
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
Why Don’t My Hydrangeas Bloom? Part I
Why Don’t My Hydrangeas Bloom? Part II
Why Don’t My Hydrangeas Bloom Part III
Putting the Blue in your Hydrangea Blooms
The Grand Hydrangeas of Ireland