Tag Archive | hydrangea


Though “clinging” and “vine” seem like a wedded concept, only a few vines really do hold on that way, using aerial rootlets that act as suction cups to attach themselves to their support. These rootlets are very strong and enable even very heavy vines to rise high on flat walls. Examples include climbing hydrangea, Boston ivy, and English ivy.

More commonly, vines are inclined to twine, wrapping their main stems around the nearest available support and circling it as they grow. Examples include beans, morning glories, bougainvillea, hops, hoya, and wisteria.

The other large group are tendril-climbers, which send out specialized, leafless stems


My clematis in glorious bloom last summer

that wrap tightly around any adjacent object that’s thin enough to get a grip on. Examples include peas, cup-and-saucer vine, grapes, passionflower, and porcelain vine. The specialized stems that do the holding on can also have leaves, in which case they’re called petioles. Clematis are the best known petiole users, but Climbing Snapdragons (asarinas) also climb this way, and so do those rare nasturtiums that genuinely climb.


My trumpet vine last fall climbing over the arbor. It pretty much goes where it wants to and requires a firm hand.

But not all vines do genuinely climb. Some just head for something supportive and grow on, around, over, or through it, sending out a tendril or two, applying a rootlet, or twining a bit without behaving in and recognizably organized way. Expect to receive some guidance if you plant these and have a particular direction of growth in mind. Examples include trumpet vine, silver-lace vine, and some of the jasmines.

Winter Window Boxes

There is nothing quite so forlorn as an empty window box in winter, which is why you so often see them filled with arrangements of evergreens. However, if you prefer dried material, there are quite a few choices that should last until early spring as long as they are protected from high winds and heavy snow.

You can experiment with any plant that has an interesting outline or decorative parts. Among those with long-lasting seedpods or berries are clematis, Queen Anne’s lace, bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), roses, gas plant (Dictamnus albus), love-in-a-mist, and honesty.


Mixed evergreen species with berries, pinecones, dried hydrangea blooms, and red twig dogwood branches

Possible flowers include cockscomb, globe thistle, sea holly, globe amaranth, goldenrod, strawflower, yarrow, and many plumed grasses. My own personal favorite, though, is massed hydrangea flowers mixed with greens.

For a contrast, use silver-leaved species like dusty miller: ‘Silver King’ or ‘Silver Queen’ artemisia, or lamb’s ears.

Dry That! (Volume 1)

by OCMGA Master Gardener Theresa Granados

When fall arrives I start looking for ways to bring my plants indoors. One way to do that is by drying some of your beautiful garden and display it all winter long without much ongoing care at all! The world of drying and dehydrating is enormous, it’s a mountain of information to climb. I started to pursue the topic based on my own garden, which I will share with you.

Chinese Lanterns

I get a lot of input from customers and friends about the Chinese lantern plants. It’s a love hate relationship, right? I have chosen to love this plant.

I think my crop stays under control partly due to swift cutting in the fall to start drying those lovely orange lanterns to enjoy for years and years.

Picture one above is how they look when I chop more than half my crop down to the ground. It’s around October. I do like to leave a few for color in my garden and cut them down later in the winter.    This is one of those plants that just keep on ‘giving’ with a rhizome style root as well as seeds inside that “lantern” pod. I believe this double whammy is one reason why this plant becomes invasive and out of control quickly.

At this point the stems are soft, sturdy but green. Keep the leaves on! Lay them on a flat surface, out of the sun and spread them out. A drying screen would probably help but I have so many I find that just laying them all over my garage is more practical. After a few days of lying flat you can braid two or three of them together. It really fills out the branch for arrangements later. This is where keeping the leaves on helps hold the braid together. Lay flat to dry in a dark but dry area for about a month. Using a drying screen may help cut that timeframe. I clip off the leaves once they are completely dried, trim off anything that doesn’t look attractive and bring them indoors. Put only one or two of the braided into a vase, it will dry further. Once the stems are brown and dry, you can start putting more into a vase together. I’ve kept some of my lanterns for years and they do change over time which adds more character to the arrangements.

Hydrangea Flowers

My hydrangea bush gives White flowers at first, they form large pom-pom style flower heads. Sometimes the limbs get heavy after a rain where my flowers almost touch the ground. I’ve learned to prune off smaller shoots toward the bottom of the bush so my flower heads now mostly shoot upward. That did t

ake a few years to manicure. There is so much to learn about this bush that seems to do so well in Northeastern Wisconsin. In Mid-October many of the white puff balls turn into a nearly hot pink. I

clip about ¼ of my flower heads with some of the branch. Following the standard protocol for a flowering bush where I clip off old branches (old “wood”) where a generous branch is helpful (up to 3ft). I bring them into my dark & dry garage, keeping leaves on the branch. I seem to have a supply of PVC Piping that did come in handy here, any large mouth vase, a large plastic pitcher or other similar “vase” will work. Prop the newly clipped branches up into that vase, the longer your branch the taller the vase will need to be. Those flower heads are heavy! Keep only one or two in each vase, if they touch they will most likely mold. Once the leaves are dried pull them off , then once the branch is dried, which will turn brown, it is ready to put into an arrangement.