Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fact as Strange as Fiction

I have three hydrangea bushes outside my basement windows. In the seven years I've lived in this house, I've watched them grow so that they almost take over the entire window, first with their huge green leaves in the spring, and then with their ginormous blue blossoms in the summer.

They have always been blue.

After moving into the house I saw someone down the street with both pink and blue bushes, and I though, "Wow! Such a pretty combination!"

I considered getting a pink one to put between my blue bushes, only to learn the very strange fact that hydrangeas don't actually come in different colors. They are all the same.

The colors of the flowers change depending on the elements in the soil, and if you want to change one to another, all you have to do is change the alkaline level of the dirt they're planted in.

This was intriguing to me mainly because I wanted to know how bushes so close together could have such different soil, and whether the owners of them specifically engineered them that way.

I however am not a green-thumbed individual, so my bushes have stayed gloriously blue.

This week I'm reading David Baldacci's book Split Second (the first of his I've read, and I'm definitely hooked), and in the book, the two investigators, hunting for a missing gun, notice an arrangement of hydrangeas in the garden that are all blue... except for one. The one in the middle is pink. One of the investigators starts digging under it while the other asks what the heck he's doing. Turns out, if something metal - like a gun - is planted under a hydrangea, it changes the alkaline of the soil under that plant and will change it's color.

Wa La. Murder weapon found.

And this morning, after seven years and a full summer so far of blue blossoms, I went outside to discover my hydrangea in the middle is now pink.

Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm still locking my doors!


  1. Wow, what a beautiful picture! I know nothing about gardening, so I can't help you there!

  2. I love the coincidence of this post! Fantastic.

  3. Very cool. I planted three hydrangeas this summer. They were pink at the store. I wonder if they'll change. They probably will, with all that gold I have burried in my yard. :)

  4. I've always loved that about hydrangeas too :) Though I HATED been made to deadhead them when I was a kid. Officially the worst job ever!

  5. That is hilarious, Heidi! However, before I got to the end of your post, I immediately began suspecting your neighbors. I mean, they have more than one pink flower. Sickos.

  6. Love the photo! What kind of insect is that?

    I have one [white] oak leaf hydrangea that I've moved so many times trying to find that right balance of sun and shade I doubt it will ever bloom again.

  7. Heidi, we're not going to see you on an episode of "Snapped", are we?

  8. That's funny. Not at all where I thought this post was going. In my head I started thinking of people. How we can be planted in seemingly the same soil... but depending on what we have buried can cause us to bloom in different ways. Glad you liked the book.

  9. I never knew that about hydrangeas and that was clever for the author to use it that way. Are you sure no one has buried anything interesting in your garden.

    Awesome picture by the way.

  10. Someone planted a gun under your bush? :) That's so cool, I didn't know anything about hydrangeas before this post. I'm not sure if I've ever even seen a pink one--or if I did, I didn't realize it was a hydrangea. What a pretty picture that makes!

  11. Nicole - I find deadheading them therapeutic. :) Still, mine are getting out of control right now and I need to trim them back!