Thursday, 4 September 2014

Round heads

Hydrangea is a bit of an odd fellow. Blousy, chameleon-like, blue or pink, easy to grow yet wilts at the drop of a hat….its a bit of a mixed up kid. 

Its folklore is equally diverse -  having a hydrangea too close to her home can doom a single woman to remain unmarried and stands for frigidity and heartlessness in the Language of Flowers.  The hydrangea also stands for boastfulness - probably due to the inflated size of its roundheaded flowerheads. It's also capable of breaking curses placed on some unlucky person by a witch. At the same time it's a nice character really as it stands for friendship, devotion and understanding.
Native Americans and settlers used it as a medicinal herb to remove 'gravel' from the bladder, to stimulate saliva, and as a diuretic, laxative or tonic.  
The Japanese brew a sweet tea from the lacecap type, and some foolhardy types have even been known to smoke it even though hydrangeas are mildly toxic containing small amounts of cyanide. I'd give that a miss then….. And yet its used as a tonic in alternative medicine.

HHmmmm let's just say it's a great shrub for a sunny yet moist border and what gorgeous, perfectly round flowers.