Google+ Georgia On My Mind: Heavenly Hydrangeas

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Heavenly Hydrangeas

My grandfather Blanton’s house was always an interesting place to visit when I was growing up.  My grandmother passed away suddenly when I was six months old, and Papa had been a bachelor ever since.  

You could tell as you walked through his house.  There was always a fine layer of dust on every surface, he stored certain items in Tampa brand cigar boxes, and mama usually re-washed every dish in the dish drain before we used them.

Papa tried, but he really wasn’t into keeping up Nanny’s standards of housekeeping after she passed.  

Over time Papa’s grief just chipped away at Nanny’s presence in the house until finally… was difficult to recognize a female had ever lived there.   By the time I was ten all evidence of Nanny living there had all but disappeared.

However, step out onto the porch and take a few steps up the walkways or across the carpet of lush Bermuda grass and you could see Nanny’s imprint everywhere.   In the spring jonquils were scattered along the wood line and blankets of thrift were hanging over the low rock and cement walls she created herself along the walks.  There were wild dogwoods she found in the woods and transplanted in the yard, Mimosa trees with their strange little leaves, and then there were the hydrangeas.

I’ve always associated hydrangeas with my Nanny even though I never knew her because she had several in her yard.   One large plant was right in front of the spot where Papa sat on the front porch when it was warm enough.   He had a Bassett Hound named Bowser who had worn out a nice little bed for himself underneath the bush.  I would sit on the porch and think about how nice it would be to get up under that bush with Bowser and see things from his perspective, but I knew Mama wouldn't like that one little bit.

I have fond memories of Papa letting my sister and I collect bouquets of Nanny’s blue and purple hydrangea blooms.   My sister would carefully wrap our bouquets in wet paper towels and then wrap aluminum foil around them to keep them fresh on the ride home.

As we got older and before Papa left his home to live with us we discussed how we really should save those bouquets…..dry them out…..and preserve Nanny’s flowers in some way for the future.  

We never did, but my fondness for hydrangeas has never waned.

For the second year in a row I’ve attended the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival  where I live in Douglasville, Georgia.   

I don’t garden….I’m not a member of any garden club…..I don’t know anything about hydrangeas other than the fact I like them, but I still go.

Of course hydrangeas come in all sorts and shapes……The next three pictures are all types of hydrangeas....

This is an Oak Leaf Hydrangea

This was a winner in one of the's called "Twist and Shout"

Part of the festival includes a flower show.  I certainly agree with this year’s winner:

This year’s featured speaker was Vince Dooley.   Yes, the former head football coach of the University of Georgia.   He’s quite the gardener and has even has a hydrangea named for him.

Coach Dooley discussed all types of things….how he got interested in gardening, his love of history, the books he has written, and of course he spoke the language of those in the crowd who are avid gardeners by throwing out the Latin and common names of various kinds of hydrangeas.....all "French" to me, but it was still interesting.

My husband did cringe a little when he heard his favorite all time college football coach mention the “Pinky Winky” variety of hydrangea. 

I head the Mister say under his breath, “I did NOT just hear Coach Dooley say Pinky Winky, did I?”

I’m afraid he did.

Coach Dooley shared pictures of his personal gardens, too.   They are lovely!!!

And thankfully for the Mister’s sake Coach Dooley did finish up with some football memories including his favorite all time play during the 1980 Georgia-Florida game when Buck Belue threw to Lindsay Scott to get a first down….and they managed to get so much more!

Hydrangeas AND football…… was a nice afternoon!

You can see some of the wonderful entries for table displays from the Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival over at Cooking With Cooper.

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