The warm ivory blossoms of the Hydrangeas have begun to transform. Initially, the petals shyly tint themselves with a blush of pink. Each day, the sun-exposed top portion of the blossoms appear to become sunburned from the Autumn days, while the underside—hidden within the shade of each blooming globe, gently moves from pure-pearl-ivory into a hint of celery-green-ivory. This new expression creates a magnificent study of contrasting colors. This metamorphosis in the early Fall signals their readiness—the Hydrangeas are ripe and ready for harvest! It is time for them to come indoors for the winter and grace us with their loveliness in the months to come.
With garden hand clippers at the ready, the time for cutting has arrived. There is a window of opportunity which varies from year to year and is dependent on the temperature, the rainfall and the number of sunny days which continue to grow shorter and shorter. Cutting the flowers too early will not produce the desired effect—a colorful and lasting bloom for months to come. Paradoxically, if the blossoms begin to dry to a golden brown while still on the plant the opportunity to capture the color has been missed. It is interesting to think of Harvesting Hydrangeas as exercises of observation and in patience. Often, these efforts proves challenging—as life continues to evolve—unfortunately, there is not a “pause button” that one is able to press while waiting for Hydrangea blossoms to become ripe. In certain years the harvest is missed, becoming a footnote in the passage of time and life events.
Incorporating twigs and sticks that have been gathered into a Hydrangea arrangement adds dimension and texture to the finished product—additionally they assist with creating a web-like matrix that prevents the top-heavy blooms from tumbling out. A full and impressive arrangement requires building the blooms one on top of another. The most effective system is creating a foundation by beginning along the sides of the container and working upwards. Adding a rock to the bottom of a light-weight vase will assist with the tendency of the top-heavy display to topple over.
Arranging the Hydrangeas in the location where they will reside is the most convenient way to visualize what you are hoping to achieve and the space you wish to occupy. The downside to that system is that the messiness of leaves and blossoms travels from room to room!
Hydrangea Harvesting can be messy and somewhat overwhelming! Expect tiny white and black spiders to emerge from their homes within the blooms as you work, usually they are amenable to relocation back to the outdoors with some assistance. Do not add water to the vase, as they Hydrangeas are ready to become a dry arrangement. For the first week you can anticipate a little bit of an odor of drying leaves which will disappear shortly.
The outcome of this lasting visual and natural presentation is worth the time spent on observation, patience, cutting, arranging and…cleaning up! These arrangements will dry in place and retain their color as they move into deeper golds and yellows as they dry over the next month. As nature would have it, around the same time the following year, the arrangements will begin to show their wear and tear, dusting will be difficult—the best approach is to dust them with a dry paint brush and gently vacuum—from a safe distance of an inch away.
A dried Hydrangea display provides a beautiful and bountiful natural expression of flowers. At The Cottage at Rooster Ridge the Hydrangea Harvest is always shared with family and friends as boxes are packed to overflowing and delivered complete with spiders! The Hydrangeas blossoms have served as centerpieces for parties, additions into wreaths, as ornaments on Christmas trees and placed in clear glass containers for candles.