Have you ever done something every year for years—and then, while you are doing that very thing you have an epiphany: What if you’re not doing it right?
What if, for all those years of doing a particular thing, you were doing it incorrectly? The stems are mostly bare except for the new growth starting.
Every fall or winter I cut back my hydrangeas. I cut them back because they lose all their leaves and new growth starts. So I cut them back, shaping them at the new growth buds, like my roses.
Well lo and behold; I’ve been pruning my hydrangeas at the wrong time of year.
I have been cheating them out of blooms. Yes, it seems that I have been stealing blossoms from my hydrangeas. I’m a blooming thief.
Hydrangeas fall into two groups. One group blooms on new growth and one group blooms on old growth. It all boils down to the type of hydrangea you have.
Hydrangeas that bloom on new growth can be cut back at almost any time of year. Most gardeners cut them back in May or June.
I have hydrangeas that bloom on old wood. My hydrangeas are Lacecap Hydrangeas (hydrangea macrophylla normalis).
Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood (old wood are stems that have been on the plant since the summer before the current season) should be pruned before August, because this type sets its flower buds in August, September, or October.
It turns out that hydrangeas don’t even need pruning unless they are kept in an area where growth is objectionable. Of course my hydrangea sits directly in front of my office window, so I have to hack it back every year.
Hydrangeas return to the size they were before they were pruned pretty quickly, so it is best to grow them in an area in which size isn’t an issue. Before pruning
So this year I will remove all old dead blooms. I will remove all dead stems. After a very light pruning.
Because it is Fall, I will lightly trim the top of the plant so as not to disturb many of the bloom buds for next season. And, I will report back during the next bloom season and see how my new pruning method works.
One of the last photos of Wellie. Jacqueline took it while Wellie stuffed a piece of kibble in her shoe
Jacqueline took a walk, as she does every day with her dog and her daughter. As she passed the barn, she noticed a woman standing next to the main barn gate. Jacqueline had never seen this particular woman before so she changed direction and approached her.
The woman, whose back was to Jacqueline, turned around. When she turned, Jacqueline saw that Wellie was perched on the woman’s index finger.
The woman said, “Look at this bird. It landed on my finger. I can’t believe it.” Jacqueline burst her Dr. Doolittle bubble and told the woman that the bird’s name was Wellie and briefly explained why she was so tame. Jacqueline then continued on her walk.
All the time Jacqueline was on her walk, this strange woman was in the back of her mind. Who was she? She seemed a little off. She said she had birds. She said she had a budgie and a cockatiel and she said she wished she had a bird like Wellie.
Jacqueline wondered if she had made it clear that Wellie was hand-raised by her and that Wellie belonged in the neighborhood. But this woman seemed smitten with Wellie. She wouldn’t take Wellie, would she? She understood that Wellie was happy and free and should never live in a cage—didn’t she?
Jacqueline, feeling a bit panicky about her bird’s safety, walked swiftly back toward the barn.
The woman was gone and Wellie still flew like a happy lunatic dive bombing, shrieking and squawking. Jacqueline could breathe again. She had no idea that this was her last day with her beloved Wellie.
Wellie slept outside but came inside every morning for breakfast. The next morning Jacqueline opened up her kitchen door and there was no sign of Wellie anywhere. I was reading her blog that day and she had written a piece called “Worry.” I saw the title and decided not to read it. I had a feeling what it might be about and I didn’t want to know.
The same day Wellie went missing, the strange woman showed up again and inquired about her. Jacqueline told her that she hadn’t seen Wellie. Jacqueline talked with the woman, who had some silly excuse for being in the neighborhood, an excuse that made no sense. Again Jacqueline felt a weird vibe from the stranger. She thought it eerie that the woman showed up the very same day that Wellie went missing.
So as she searched for Wellie, she also did some sleuthing about the weird woman.
Jacqueline walked over to the sculptor’s studio down the drive, and learned that the woman had shown up unannounced at the studio the day before. She knew no one and gave the sculptor and his assistants a creepy feeling.
This gave Jacqueline a stomachache.
She called me later and told me the story. “Do you think she took Wellie?” I said. “I don’t know, it just seems strange that she showed up the day that Wellie disappeared.”