Multiple customer Question/Questions: (This set of questions is often asked and asked by many customers ~ so here is my best advice/suggestions)How should I prune my hydrangea? Is there something that could be added to my hydrangea that would turn the pink flowers blue? Is this a good idea?

Answer: (To the best of my ability) The hydrangea, macrophylla, is widely used in different zones of our state. It comes from Japan, is deciduous, has a symmetrically rounded growth habit, and grows 4-6 feet high and as wide. It does well as a landscape shrub or in a container. The blue and pink colors of the hydrangeas depend on the amount of aluminum in the soil that is absorbed by the roots.
The blue flowers appear on the hydrangea that has a soil pH of 5.5 or less.
In alkaline soil, it is difficult achieve a pH of 5.5 or less.

This normally means we have pink flowers since the aluminum is tied up in an insoluble form that cannot be absorb by the roots.

White cultivars are generally white and are not affected by the soil's pH.

Flowers grown for the florist trade have lime or superphosphate added to the soil mixture, which will tie up the absorption of aluminum resulting in pink to red flowers.

For blue flowers, they add aluminum sulfate (51.0%) to lower the pH in the soil. You can purchase this at your nursery. Depending on the size of the plant, add 1 tablespoon to cup per plant in late fall. Make 2 to 3 more applications in the early spring and again in late spring depending on your existing soil pH. This treatment must be done now and again next spring to change the flower color. A simple test kit for pH is available at your nursery.

The eastern side of the house is the best location in very warm areas or plant in partial shade, to avoid the hot afternoon sun. This plant likes a well-drained, porous soil. The flower buds are formed at the terminal of the stem (apical dominance) of last year's growth. If this flower bud is damaged, other flower buds down the stem will develop. If you cut the tips of the branches before the flowering season you will have more branches and flowers. This could cause too many flowers that are crowded together and will not fully develop on the shady side
The first 1-3 years the plant will not need to be pruned, except for cross or unsightly branches which should be cut to the ground. For the life of the plant, you must keep the center open to the light and air for a healthy bush. To cut flowers for the house or removing dying flowers, cut between the bottom of the flower head and above the first set of leaves. Cutting lower than the first set of leaves could stimulate unwanted growth from the lower buds at the leaf nodes.

Maintenance pruning can be done now by removing the dead, weak, diseased and broken stems on both the new and old wood by cutting to the ground as close as possible. Do not remove more than one-third of the old wood at a time. I like to leave some of the inside wood longer than some of the outside to keep the bush from becoming a "roundy-moundy." Keep the inside open to light. By pruning now, it should give the plant sufficient time for the new growth to harden before freezing weather.

The plant can be pruned just above a node, remembering that next year's flowers will grow on the new growth of the old stems. To get the biggest flower clusters, reduce the number of stems per plant; for numerous medium and smaller clusters, keep more stems.

If you have an overgrown or neglected shrub, I would cut it back to within 12 inches of the ground. Then cut back week or diseased stems followed by old wood stems near the center to the ground. If done now, you may still have a few blossoms next year and many more the following year. Continue the maintenance program next year.

Hydrangeas like soils high in organic matter. Compost worked into the soil before planting and adding peat moss will help to make the soil acid. Wood chips or other mulch material will help the plant throughout the year. A balanced fertilizer, such as 15.15.15 or a slow release fertilizer (Osmocote, Nutricote or Polygon) 4 ounces of 10.10.10 should be placed at the base of the plant and deep watered before the leaves appear. Here is a picture of my fall compost, it's free and you can find it everywhere in New England ;)

Again, white cultivars are not affected by soil pH. However, availability of aluminum may result in a pink or blue eye in the flower, depending on its presence or absence in the soil.

Hydrangeas do very nicely in containers as you can control the soil pH as well as the location of the pot for best blooms.

Photoshoot at Browsholme Hall, Photography by Jonny Draper

Emma looks completely fabulous in this exquisite gown from Jenny Packham "Papillion" is just breathtaking and it's available from One & Only Bridal Couture in Preston
We designed some floral jewellery for the model to wear, this arm bangle of Red Nerines is light and delicate and is easy to wear
The Bridal Bouquet of deep red Grand Amore Roses, Green Amaryllis, Arabicum, Red Nerines and a selection of Christmas Foliages is framed by the same gold and black filigree work as the arm bangle
This suit is so sharp and is also available to hire from One & Only & Dan Kerr in Preston
The filigree Boutonniere is longer in design than the usual simple English version this design is far more contemporary with a continental vibe.
The lovely Sheree manager of One & Only modeling an elaborate headdress of Roses and Golden filigree workings
This elegant wedding gown is from Ian Stuart again available from One & Only
We'd designed a vibrant Posy style bouquet of deep orange Naranga & lemon Tara Roses together with Craspedia and Hypericum berries

The "Icicle Bouquet" is just perfect with the ruffles on this fantastic Ian Stuart Gown, we've used White Crystal Nerines, Crystal Blush Calla Lilies and delicate white Magic Vanda Orchids in the drop in the heart of the bouquet clustered Anthuriums and Hydrangeas give the bouquet proper definition

To compliment the Bouquet we've designed another filigree style Boutonniere in silver and white with Nerines and Pearls to finish

The Ceremony Space at Browsholme Hall's Tithe Barn is just so atmospheric, they have incredible lighting that changes the mood with the flick of a switch, we've given the designs a "Frosty Morning" treatment with lots of wintery foliages and branches in our creations,
The Chairs and table linen are by the fabulous Creative Cover Hire
We included Green Goddess Arum Lilies & luscious white Amaryllis
The Top Table design is created around a focal of chapel candles and white Amaryllis, white Tulips and Green Anthuriums, the outer reaches include White Delphinium Elatum, Arabicum, Kochia, Eucalyptus and Highwood Arum Lilies
Candelabras look perfect in this space but they do need a bold strong Floral centre, we used White Amaryllis, Longiflorum Lilies, Lissianthus, Viburnum Opulus and Dianthus

Hanging beneath the branches of the candelabra are glass orbs containing candles and trails of Stephanotis and Ivy
The Spooky Tree dripping with crystals and pearls, flowers in glass test tubes and orbs with candles Germini
Glass Tea Light Orbs
A Three tier mirrored cake stand with floral cupcakes of Amaryllis, Eupatorium, Roses, Nerines and Snowberry
All of these fabulous photographs were taken by the dynamic and brilliant Jonny Draper

Christmas Cookery & Flower Design Demonstration Luncheon at Twelve Restaurant on 24th November 2010

As many of you will know, I have almost as big a passion for food as I do for flowers, and that my absolute favorite place to indulge this is the gorgeous Twelve in Thornton where Paul the Head Chef works utter magic and Caroline maneuvers with dynamic charisma. Imagine Caroline calling with the opportunity to merge my two most excitable pleasures, in one of Twelve’s famous events, the exciting chance to join forces with them. Read on to see exactly why I am so excited . . .
Christmas Cookery & Flower Design Demonstration Luncheon at Twelve Restaurant on 24th November 2010

So the concept goes like this: We are teaming together to give you the perfect ingredients for the most enchanted, homely Christmas. In pursuit of the most picturesque Christmas scene there will be tips and demonstrations in Festive Flower Design Creations, a scrumptious Twelve Christmas Feast, an immaculately laid table and delicious wines and cocktails to compliment . . .

We will help make the magical Christmas pictured in your minds-eye come true.

So this is the plan..

9:15-9:30 Arrival, Coffee & Homemade Christmas Biscuits

9:45-10:45 Christmas Dinner Cookery Demonstration and Tips from Paul & the Twelve Chefs in the Twelve Kitchen (I do like a good nosey behind the scenes!)

You've got to admit ladies these Chefs are pretty hot!10:50-11-50 Flower Design Demonstration of “Welcome Ring” for your front door, Table Centre Piece, Napkin Dressings & Table Favours with Jane & Jason and The Flower Design Team


12:00-13:00 Christmas Cocktails, Serving the perfect wines and laying the most immaculate Christmas table with Caroline & the very gorgeous Twelve Bar team

13:30 -15:00 A very special Twelve Christmas Luncheon will be served. During which the Super Talented "Daniel Sings" will be here to entertain us with some fabulous Christmas tunes

All of the floral designs will be raffled with proceeds to Trinity Hospice

Tickets are £30.00 per person including lunch

To Book just call Twelve and make a reservation tel 01253 821212

Please note the numbers are strictly limited and bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis

Aad The Cymbidium Orchid Grower, To Know Him is to Love Him!

Aad is an aquired taste, a little like Cymbidium Orchids, as it happens I thought he was brilliant, a real character, he's one of those people much like my own late father who truly believes that the world revolves around flowers, actually in Aad's case the world revolves around the Cymbidium Orchid!
This nursery is on a ginormous scale with Orchids in various stages of developement
Aad does actually speak English though not to us of course, so he showed us rather like a mime artist how the stems are hooked up to wires above to ensure they grow straight.

When they are picked they are hung upside down to prevent them from being crushed

Hans aka "Mr Cool" from Metz was our translator I suspect he chose his words carefully as Aad didn't seem to be in good humour or perhaps he's just not keen on people in his greenhouses with the Orchids.

You can see here the lines connecting to new buds pulling them upwards

I love this green orchid she looks so proud

The orchids are all sleeved and boxed very carefully by hand before being transported to Metz for distribution to the florist on the same day.

You see I thought Aad didn't like me but I must have been wrong, he gave me a gift you see a miniature Orchid box complete with a pen so I can write him love letters......
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