Wtih The Augusta Chroncile since Dec. 20, 1995 covering courts and legal issues. Now serving as part of the projects team that focuses on investigative reporting.
Posted May 27, 2010 01:22 pm - Updated May 27, 2010 07:37 pm

Everyone needs a hydrangea or two or three or a dozen

After last weekend's adventure with the hydrangea lovers, I am now certain I am not the only plant crazy person out here.

Which is good to know because you are now forewarned: bone up on those wrestling skills and get to the Pendleton King Park's hydrangea grand sale early Saturday.

While I'm joking about the wrestling skills, you don't want to miss the sale. If you can come early you will get a chance to see the pavilion full of blooming hydrangeas. It's remarkable. And really, can one have too many hydrangeas? Tell the frugal member of the households it's for a good cause. All of the money raised goes for improvements at Pendleton King Park, like the Bark Park.

The Augusta Rose Society is going to be there too to answer questions about roses and have a membership drive.

While you're there, be sure to spend some time in the hydrangea gardens. It's spectacular. We have many members of the CSRA Hydrangea Society to thank.

Buddy Sheila and I had a great time with members of the CSRA Hydrangea Society last Saturday. Thanks to Kay Bowman and Valerie Martin we took a bus trip to Watkinsville to visit with the founders of Plant Introductions Inc. As the name implies, the three founders have put their hearts and backs into the production of new plant cultivars, including hydrangeas.

Mike Dirr, retired University of Georgia horticulture profession, and Josh Kardos, the company's plant breeder, gave us the tour and explained the operation they created.

Plant Introductions not only breeds plants, they evaluate them, test them in various parts of the country in real outdoor conditions, and they introduce new cultivars through nurseries.

The plant breeding business is tough. Thousands are on the market these days. Dirr said there have been 20,000 plant patents given just since 1996.

"In plant breeding, good is the enemy of great," Dirr explained. We gasped in shock when he described what happens to those plants that aren't good enough _ "over the fence".

They are working on several different trees and shrubs. For hydrangeas they are focused on creating bigger, more colorful, sturdier, more resistant to mildew, less likely to wilt, re-blooming hydrangeas. They've created what we all considered beauties, but Dirr said that when they showed off their beloved new breed, they were told it was too similar to Endless Summer to be successfully marketed.

Personally I think there are plenty of folks out here like us who might be willing to throw a few elbows to get the Plant Introductions Inc. creations.

And I tell you what, if their improved version of a double flowered gardenias comes available, it's every gnome for herself.

Until then, there are several hundred beautiful hydrangeas available Saturday at Pendleton King Park. Bring the checkbook.


WHAT: The annual Hydrangea sale

WHEN: Saturday, 9 a.m. until every hydrangea finds a home

WHERE: Pendleton King Park's Franke Pavilion, Troupe Street, about ½ mile from Wrightsboro Road

WHO: Proceeds used to make improvements at the park

WHY: Because everyone needs more hydrangea



OK, now that you have new hydrangeas, where do you put them? Thanks to Kay Mills we can consult the book, "Hydrangeas for American Gardens" by The hydrangea expert, Michael A. Dirr.

 Climbing hydrangea: Find the shady spot such as north and east sides of the home or other building, and under the canopies of deciduous (ones that lose their leaves when it gets cold) trees.

 Smooth hydrangea such Annabelle: Light shade is best in our area.

 Hydrangea heteromalla: Full sun to partial shade in moist, well-drained soil.

 Hydrangea macrophylla (mopheads and lacecaps) such as Endless Summer: will need some shade in our area. Try for sites under pine trees, on the north and east sides of buildings and at woodland edges.

 Hydrangea paniculata such as Chantilly lace: These will flower best in sun.

 Oakleaf hydrangea: Performs best in partial to full shade in our area.

 Hydrangea serrata: Best in light to moderate shade here.