Dear AHS Members,
Recently we had a request from a freelance writer for information about the American Hydrangea Society. This happens now and then with the abundance of interest in hydrangeas especially now through social media. Of course I was happy to answer her questions. Just ask my adult children when we are out in public and the topic of hydrangeas and the AHS comes up. I see the looks between the spouses, here goes “Marmie”, my grandmother name. She will be talking hydrangeas for the next few minutes or hours! They have heard my “raves” multiple times over the years about the wonders of hydrangeas and all the benefits our society has to offer for both the novice and the seasoned hydrangea grower.
I am sure the same thing happens to most of you. You go a garden nursery and while looking at all the gorgeous hydrangeas, you strike up a conversation with the person next to you who is also looking at the hydrangeas. I have done this multiple times and I just cannot help myself. They will ask a question about hydrangeas and the next thing I know I am telling them all about the AHS and inviting them to the meetings and tour. I have even had a few job offers by the nurseries to work in their hydrangea section.
One of the questions from the freelance writer was how long have I been growing hydrangeas.
My adventure with hydrangeas began in 2001 after our third move in three years for my husband’s job. He is a chemical engineer so we never would know where in the world his company would send us next. Once we settled into our home north of Atlanta, my neighbor invited me to tour Penny McHenry’s garden. Penny’s garden at the time extended to the land owned by the church behind her home. Entering her garden immediately transformed me. Hydrangeas were EVERYWHERE in her magical and serene garden. Her garden was a wonderland for her grandchildren to run and play while Mr. Giraffe and Mr. Zebra (wooden heads) peeked over the fence. For those of you lucky enough to have seen it, I am sure you would agree, it was enchanting. I met Penny McHenry that day and she changed my life as she did for so many. Though we had a difference in age we had a lot in common — love of gardening, husband’s profession, and children. Penny told me about the AHS and I decided then and there I would join and attend AHS.
This was during the time of my life when my children were busy teenagers; however, I made sure I attended the AHS meetings. My neighbors joined me now and then but mostly I went alone. Originally, I went to learn how to grow hydrangeas. Over the past twenty years I have not only grown hydrangeas but friendships. These are “my people”. We text each other about where to find a specific cultivar, what is in bloom, and if a frost is coming. We share plants, wisdom, dinners, help each other in our gardens and basically enjoy our time together. I heard our former local radio garden guru, Walter Reeves, say one day “I never met a gardener I didn’t like” and I have found it to be true. It may just take one person to transform someone else like Penny and my neighbor’s invitation did for me.
Be that one person, invite someone to attend our Zoom April 26, 2021 meeting with Brooks Garcia, “Using Hydrangeas to Their Best Effect in The Garden and Other Good Bedfellows”. Brooks should be entertaining and his lecture will help you in your own garden. While you are inviting them to the meeting, why not invite them to the tour too?
If you have not renewed your 2021 AHS membership, now is the time to do so in order to receive your AHS Tour ticket(s) in the mail. For more tour information please see Dörte’s tour article in this newsletter or go to the AHS website americanhydrangeasociety.org. Due to the COVID-19 virus the deadline for buying tour tickets is May 15, 2021. Tickets will not be sold on the day of the tour. If you would like to volunteer on Saturday, June 12 the AHS Garden Tour for a 3 hour shift please email Liesl Marmon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are allowed to tour the gardens the day before on Friday, June 11 from 10 A.M. until 2 P.M.
Speaking of volunteering, we are returning to the gardens of the Atlanta History Center, AHC. Please email Liesl if you would like to join your fellow AHS members for a fun work day. It is a spectacular perk for both us and the staff of the AHC as we learn from each other.
As many of you know I moved to a new home about a year ago. We have been busy in the garden mostly removing overgrown or diseased plants. The original owners planted elaeagnus which had grown fifteen to twenty feet up into the trees. My neighbors see me in my garden and of course our conversations turn to hydrangeas. As we all know, hydrangeas are loved throughout the world. Here in the hot southern US summers the softness of the blue H. macrophyllas, white H. arborescens along with the lush greenery seem to say “come sit a spell and have a nice cool glass of sweet tea”. Pure heaven! And as for my adult children who jest me about my addiction, they too now have hydrangeas in their gardens. The saga continues but they are much better at using social media to promote hydrangeas than I am.
Eva Kinney, AHS President