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My new corner garden of hydrangeas is blooming! But before I get to lots of photos of pretty flowers, I need to tell you a family story.
When I was a kid, my Dad would plant lots of varieties of flowers. But because he was also a penny pincher (and a little more talented at growing flowers than I), he preferred to grow gardens from seed. There was just one little catch…
He wouldn’t mark, label, or pay any attention to what flowers were growing where. Dad would buy packets of seeds whenever they went on sale and just sort of scatter them in various places around the house. No real color scheme, or height planning, or knowing what grows best with what. It would always be a sort of surprise each spring and summer (much to the chagrin of my mom) to see what would suddenly pop up or completely take over. But many times, the results would also turn out beautifully:
Gorgeous, right? But then again… why am I bringing this up?
Even though Dad was clearly pretty good at this little gamble, I have spent years struggling to figure out how best to grow things in my own gardens. I like to think that I’ve gotten far more confident about knowing what will thrive these days, but if I’m spending cold hard cash on a flower or shrub, I tend to be more of a planner (however, I’m still my father’s daughter at being a “Frugal Fogle” as I’ve proven with some of my plant hacks before).
So you can imagine my surprise when I spent some time and effort planting my new hydrangea garden in the corner of the back yard… mulching… putting down fertilizer… and watching things suddenly start to bloom… to realize that some of my plants were blooming… a little different than how I expected.
When I originally looked at the tag and bought my new BloomStruck® hydrangeas, I expected to see them coming in like the way I’ve known my other Endless Summer hydrangeas to come in: big, “mophead” clusters of little flowers varying in color from pink to deep blue. And since these were specifically supposed to be the BloomStruck® variety and I’ve seen lots of pictures on the Endless Summer® website gallery, I knew that the color would probably be even more vibrant. But as I inspected some of the shrubs closer, I realized that some of my plants were showing more delicate centers that looked like they weren’t blooming all the way. Hmm…
As you guys have seen from the disclosure I’m required to post (FTC rules being what they are and such), my new corner garden is unique in that it is sponsored this year directly by the Endless Summer® folks. I have planted their Original variety in my yard over the years and fell in love with how easy and pretty their hydrangeas are to care for, especially since they bloom and re-bloom from spring to fall. So, it was a no-brainer when they reached out to partner for my new corner garden idea. Just as the flowers started to bloom and I published the first blog post about my plans, one of their reps contacted me and solved my curious little flower puzzle: some of these flowers were not, in fact, the BloomStruck® variety!
I went back to looking at all of the signature blue pots that Endless Summer hydrangeas come in and all of their labels. Was I nuts? Had I picked up the wrong plant? I had only just started cleaning up the garden so I still had all the labels the pots came with. What the heck???
A little back and forth with the ES folks and we got down to the bottom of it: when the local nursery put out the plants, they’re also the ones who put the pricing labels on the tags (I had Photoshopped the price out of this original image I took at the nursery, but pictured is the label I’m talking about). Somehow, when they did that, they must have taken off the tags and then stuck them back in each pot, mixing up the pots and labels and sold a different variety — called Twist n Shout, which is a “lacecap” bloom style — as BloomStruck! ????
As you can imagine, I was kind of embarrassed over the whole thing — when you promote something for a brand, you not only want to be accurate for the sake of professionalism, but I also don’t want to accidentally tell you guys something wrong either. Not to mention pretty irritated at the nursery for the mixup, since it meant I’d have to dig up the ones that were wrong and replant (I could have kept them, but it’s merely a preference thing that I specifically wanted all the plants to match). Luckily the nursery (like most these days) have a refund policy so it was easy to return… and then I went and picked up BloomStruck pots at a competitor location.
But just to double check (since now I was super concerned about how little I knew of identifying these plants beyond what the blooms look like, ha!), I also learned that the BloomStruck variety can be identified by their reddish stems (the Original has a similar bloom look but green stems):
Anyway, the point of this story is just that unbeknownst to me, I wound up carrying on my dad’s tradition after all. So instead of making me fuming angry at the nitwits at the local nursery for almost making my garden look like it was having an identity crisis (well, ONLY angry at them, that is), I can look back and once again have a crazy story about this house to tell my friends, and a nice little funny family memory thrown in every time I go back out there to see how my “new” new hydrangeas are doing (as if I need more funny stories, right? This house, I swear!).
Where were we? Oh right: Hydrangea Care and Maintenance!
Color and fertilizing: Like I mentioned, one of the reasons why I agreed to work with the Endless Summer folks in the first place was that I already knew how easy their plants were to care for; so even though I had to sort of “catch up” the new plants to the ones I planted back in the spring, they all started growing in nicely once I added some slow-release fertilizer (I prefer Osmocote as a good catch-all fertilizer, but if you specifically want to change the color of the blooms, you can also use a pink or blue fertilizer that changes the pH balance in the soil for the color you want).
Watering: To keep things coming in nice and healthy, I took the swapping out of the wrong plants as an opportunity to add a soaker hose, but wound up turning it off about halfway through the summer since we’ve had a little extra rain over the last couple of months and this garden area is close to the roof downspout (too much water can lead to producing less flowers, and the hard Georgia clay already holds more water than sandy soil).
Sun and wind: My number 1 tip about hydrangeas is to pick a place where it is protected by the wind, which is why I plant them near fences and under the shade of larger trees; I’ve found that when they’re protected enough from the sun and wind, they can grow like crazy and pop up blooms before I know it. The southern heat can lead the leaves to wilt in midday, but they perk up in the evening again once the temps cool down a little (usually by the time Charlie is due for her evening walks).
Hydrangeas in Full Bloom
Once things were corrected, they started blooming and showing off their beautiful range of summer colors. I’m going to let them get better established before I do cuttings, but I’m looking forward to seeing how they look in the fall too. I just love how deeply purple they have been coming in with all of the recent rain we’ve had in Georgia:
The lighter hues aren’t half bad, either ????:
Want to see them in action? Check out the video.
So, enough of that crazy tale… how about another awesome outdoor giveaway?? Here are all the details! Update: this giveaway is now closed.
Endless Summer® Bloomstruck Giveaway – Experience Life in Full Bloom™ Prize: One (1) set of Edison String Lights One (1) Notch Wood Server One (1) Beverage Dispenser, and One (1) pair of Endless Summer® branded gardening gloves
Number of winners: one Giveaway ends: Friday, August 11th at 11:59pm Geographical restrictions: U.S. only To enter: Leave a comment on this post answering the giveaway question below. Yes, you have to leave a comment. Or don’t, but if you don’t, you probably won’t win. I check them because I’d much rather reward a regular reader (usually giveaway jumpers don’t stop to leave a comment, so that seems to help your chances!). Please update the Rafflecopter widget to confirm you’ve left a comment. Winner will be chosen at random via the widget auto-generator. Giveaway question to answer (many of you know how this goes): Have you ever found something cool or unexpectedgrowing in your garden? Ready, and… GO! Good luck! (And if you want to share your own hydrangea photos on IG, be sure to tag me and use the hashtag #LifeinFullBloom so I can see them!)
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Endless Summer® Hydrangeas. The opinions and text are all mine.
More Hydrangea Ideas
I love hydrangeas, I was surprised to find little baby hydrangeas growing all over the place mine have spread so much!
The house I bought had beautiful lilies pop up my first spring there!
The most unexpected thing I have found growing in my garden was a (harmless) baby snake! Gave me quite a shock.
I saw one just the other day in my “old” (hint hint at future projects) fire pit! It was honestly pretty cute but a harmless one at least!
I found a tomato plant growing in my front flower bed…and we don’t grow them anywhere else! I’m guessing a critter ate a neighbor’s tomato and did a little “natural” fertilizing/planting for me! I ended up pulling it out before it grew any fruit but it made for a good giggle while I was pulling weeds.
So I know barely anything about gardening, but have wanted to get into it for a while. We just bought our house 8 months ago and have just been finding out what kind of plants we have now, before adding or moving things. So everything is new and unexpected really! ;) We have some beautiful blooming trees (that I still need to identify) in the front, and nice thistle in the back (for the bees!). I am so glad I read this post though, because I have seen these beautiful hydrangeas in the neighborhood, but didn’t even know what they were called, let alone how easy they are to care for! I definitely want to get some next season. Thanks for the inspiration!
I haven’t found anything unexpected in my garden, but I would love it if I did. I have a hard enough time keeping plants alive that finding one just growing on its own would be amazing.
I’m getting good at ripping plants out, but not replanting yet. Doesn’t help that I have no idea what grows in our new state!
I haven’t found any unexpected plants, though found rebar in the best left over from the builder. Super nice.
My mom did pull up ivy for 20 years before realizing it was wild blackberries though!
As a side note/inquiry (and sorry if I missed this, I’m totally reading while wine-ing) – how do you keep Charlie from eating the hydrangeas when they’re dormant? It’s entirely possible other dogs are more polite than mine, but that’s always are issue with hydrangeas; they turn into stick buffets in the winter. Otherwise I’d have dozens :/.
One time my mom kept chopping away at this plant she swore was a weed. After several attempts to kill it, it kept sprouting up so she broke out the shovel and dug it up for good. Well, so she thought! The next spring it popped up again, this time with pretty purple flowers. She loved it!!!! It ended up being a plant called Speedwell and its one of her favorites now! We crack up at how tough that plant was to survive after all of that! ……so if you’re looking for a hardy plant, Speedwell is worth a try!
I can’t say that I grew it, but I found a teeny frog the size of a dime sitting on my bird feeder. On the perch!
My husband and I are the original owners of our house so there haven’t been any surprises because we’ve planted everything that’s growing. Bit we’re moving next week to a previously owned place so who knows what we’ll find! After seeing your hydrangeas on this post I think I’m going to plant some at my new house.
We have lived in our home for 16 year and this year, for the first time, we had surprise lilies pop up in the most perfect spot in our back yard! We were all so excited!
Also, hydrangeas are my favorite. ????
One year we had a couple of giant sunflowers pop up in our garden bed. We compost, and I assume these came from the sunflower seeds we like to eat on salads. They were pretty fun to see grow.
I live in a wooded area, so sometimes really strange things pop up in my garden beds. The weirdest to date is part of an animal hip bone that I uncovered, probably from a deer. I know—technically, it was not growing in my garden, but it was definitely unexpected! As far as actual plants go, the previous owners of my house seemed to have cut back several azaleas that have now grown back and produce gorgeous hibiscus-like flowers in the spring. I love them!
One of the things I love most about my home is the plantings were well- established and unexpected blooming. Our first year we kept finding different things bloom at different times. A plant I thought was an ignored weed, turned out to be an interesting hydrangea, then we have two tall Camillas with different blooms (blood red or light pink) that bloom at slightly different times, and a few more shrubs bloom. Part of me wants to grow cuttings from these to replace things I don’t like so much.
At my old house, we had these lilies pop up in the most random place next to the house. I guess they were planted years ago before the guy that rebuilt the house got there. I actually had to ask the good people on Hometalk what type of plant it was because it never flowered :( Luckily, they were bulbs and I was able to transplant most to another area….but they still never flowered
We moved in a year ago last week to our house, and things are constantly popping up, and I’m having a heck of a time telling what’s what and if I should or shouldn’t pull things. Such a learning curve! But I love hydrangeas, and I would have 100% done what you did and returned the imposters to put in the ones that I love. It looks great!
I bought a house recently and what I thought was just a massive normal tree in the backyard actually turned out to be an avocado tree!! The fruit started coming in about 2 months ago and I basically freaked out with excitement!!
I always seem to have 1 random plant show up that I “didn’t” plant, sometimes on completely opposite sides of my yard from where there are similar plants.
I found your blog a little over a month ago and through you I found the DIY Diva. I’m here in GA too and with all of the rainy days I sat on the porch and binged. Love what you guys have done. My own daughter will be looking for her own place shortly and have sent her links to see that Girls can do anything!!! Your hydrangeas are gorgeous and next year they will be even better. And I’m a little like your dad. I constantly just spread seed to see what takes.
I created our flower garden, so no plant surprises. I did find a rabbit and six baby bunnies in it about a month ago. Please do make a judgment on my apparent lack of weeding!
I found a pumpkin once, I think it was from my compose!
I did once have the weirdest fungus pop up…it looked like candy corn witches fingers…most bizarre thing I have ever seen.
I can’t wait for you to post about transplanting hydrangeas. I have so many in the wrong place and they are huge. They are so lovely – but need a better home in my yard.
I found a huge chunk of autumn sedum growing in my compost bin! No idea where it came from as we had never grown that in our yard. I planted it and now it’s one of my favorite plants, super bushy and gorgeous.
We moved into a HUD house that had sat empty for years. The trees in the back corners were not looking real well so we gave them extra love and attention. We weren’t even sure they would survive. I now have two of the most gorgeous fruitless mulberry trees ever.
I love them.
Your plants look amazing! I have lived in my house for two years and I think I am making my neighbor who is a master gardner, a bit crazy. I have repeatedly moved plants around, trying for that perfect combination. Maybe next summer…
Since I ave 2 hands full of” black thumbs” and “can toes count too?” I have very little luck with flowers of any kind. I planted two hydrangea and can only get a couple blooms each year. I fertilize and water, but they struggle to give me one or two blooms. Have any tips?
Long time time reader, infrequent comment leaver… love your blog! We bought helicopter succulents several years ago and put them in a planters. I love the light chalky blue-green fan shaped leaves – oh so pretty! I wasn’t expecting them to bloom – we’re terrible at watering, but two summers ago it started to bloom bright orange-y coral color flowers; they’re breath-taking! Completely unexpected and it’s quickly become my favorite blooming succulent in my garden!
Ooh, can you send pictures (if you have them) through @uglyducklingDIY on IG? I’d love to see!
Also wanted to know, what’s your *favorite* flowering plant? Is it hydrangea?
When I was a kid, my grandmother gardened a lot, and somehow she kept getting tiny pansies popping up that she didn’t plant!
As for me. . . well, one houseplant I had wound up spawning a bunch of gnats, does that count?
Seriously though, I’m such a plant killer, it’s depressing.
the biggest unexpected thing I have in my garden is poison ivy. am trying everything to get it to die then will try to bag it
Years ago after moving into my first house, the ugliest weeds starting growing in some of the beds around the house. I pulled them up only to discover later that I had pulled up poppies! Who knew?
Raspberry bushes…they came in after we purchased our new home and my kids have been wild about them ever since! We look forward to them every year! Love your hydrangeas!
Hey Erin! You’re the winner of my giveaway! Check your inbox for details!
Nothing unusual in the garden, but in the wooded side yard we found wild grapes!
Hello! I was surprised to find 2 massive peony plants growing in our garden. We bought the house in the winter so we had no idea what plants might pop up. Both plants produce the most incredible large, fragrant peony buds. My wife and i wait now every year for them to start blooming so we can bring them inside to every corner of the house. Thanks for your post. And oh yeah, about pruning hydrangeas (when you get to that point) I learned the hard way that if you prune too late in the fall, you won’t see many blooms the next year. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we need to prune hydrangeas in August if we want to see blooms the following year.
I’ll second Lynn’s comment – A few summers ago a lovely, light purple surprise lily (aka, resurrection lily – do a search for it, it’s pretty cool!) appeared out of nowhere in the garden bed along the front of my house, among all the day lilies. I was super stoked, but neglected to mark the spot. Last summer I redid the beds, digging up and redistributing 99% of the front bed lilies to three other garden beds around the property. The lily has yet to resurrect and I’m super bummed. . . but if it took 16 yrs for hers to show, maybe mine will reappear someday?
Other than that, my veggie garden sprouts volunteer cherry tomatoes like a boss. . . in the lettuce bed, in the strawberry bed, in the wood-chipped walkway. . . I get so excited I have a hard time thinning them . . . good thing I love tomatoes!
I’ve found lots of unexpected things in my garden… Mostly weeds! But for the first few spring/summer months after we moved in, we kept finding garden statues! The previous owner had been a fan, and took (what we and likely they) thought were all of them, but I think we ended up with two cherubs and some sort of mask thing.
On the hydrangea topic, tho- I have a mystery variety (pretty typical puff-flower one) that has gotten to be HUGE. Like, half the size of a Volkswagen beetle huge. I’m planning to divide it- does your hydrangea hookup have any tips?
I was tickled to find a bunch of volunteer sunflowers around my garden this year including in the raised vegetable beds.
I’ve only found some random tomato plants in our garden beds from seeds in our compost bin. Amazed they survived the winter.
I found an unexpected hosta growing in our front garden.
I recently purchased a 1920s Craftsman bungalow and as I was digging a hole in the back yard to plant a new tree, I uncovered a small toolbox filled with old timey tools! They were very dirty (obvi) but after washing off all the grime, I now have some really neato stuff and I plan on putting them on display in the carriage house/garage. I absolutely love history!!!
Kewl Fogel story :-) I’m no master gardener by any means but I’d have to say your dad’s turned out well because maybe he talked to them a bit when planting and was having fun knowing you can find beauty in any flower anywhere it grows. It’s now quite nice you have the B/Y room now to set aside areas for roses, hydrangeas, tulips etc. I have one area that was all 3 – 4 ft. weeded over, wrapping around the deck off the front door of the hous I completely redid getting rid of the sandy ( live near a river ) soil and pea-rock replacing with 4-5″ of composite flower growing soi.
Last year my hydrangeas did well with many blooms. This year not nearly as good as last. Your’s look very nice and vibrant. I use a map of my area with a plant/flower/ground cover numbering system ( because I haven’t them all memorized yet) when I started, and will eventually have a little wire stake with description lable saying what each is for others seeing for first time.
I have been planting native to my area wild flowers in the ditches and along my approach / driveway and around a internet comminication 3ft. junction box (they just had to make a 2ft.hill where they installed it) >( I have it about surrounded now with 4ft. Pampas Grass I transplanted from a friends lot) next to the driveway entrance on the utilities easement right-of-way. It’s always been an eyesore to me because it’s on a little 2ft. hill and it’s the first thing you see when you enter my driveway…grr. I’ve added a taller switch grass to both sides as well because it grows a bit taller and will hide it better from a distance from both north and south traffic. The house side of the hill got the grass skinned off it when my son (learning curve how it mows) was excited to mow the acreage with dad’s new ( made in Arkansas, USA ~ Bad Boy ~ zero-turn so the house side of the little hill got tilled up nutrients added and wild flowers planted so none of the hill needs mowed again.
When stayiong at a hotel like Holiday Inn…”The best surprise is no surprise”
But flowers…they look great just anywhere :-) Have a great day!
Jack & Willie
Your hydrangeas look beautiful! My house is old, and I have found many things growing in the yard. I chopped and mowed down blackberry bushes and lilies for years before I realized what they were. My favorite things to find are bottles and objects buried in the yard.
I have a big established tree in my backyard that surprised me with mulberrys. Being in the Arizona desert, I had no idea what they were!
I live in zone 5 and in the city and only have a balcony. I have an Annabel which has done well in a planter. Do you know if these can be grown in planter
I haven’t tried to grow mine in a planter, BUT I’ve also sometimes been slow to pull them out of their pots and plant, and they seem to stay happy in the temporary pots for a long while (one, I still can’t find a place for, but I’m hoping to plant it near my new shed once it’s built). I think it would take a little bit more effort to keep them happy, especially to get them established (and your zone makes things a little colder), but these are a very easy plant to care for from my experience!
HI- Could you share a link to your laptop tray? I’ve noticed it peeking out from under your laptop but can’t seem to find a similar one online.
Absolutely! I use it ALL the time and you can get it online! I absolutely LOVE it: http://amzn.to/2vgsv3u
I am used to having my volunteer cherry tomatoes, but this year I had 4 volunteer tomatillo plants, which I ended up staking even though they were nowhere near my garden they were actually in the middle of the grass, but now I have tomatillo fruit growing and am going to get to have fresh “yard” salsa to enjoy!
I found daffodils growing in random places behind my garage!
I compost so there’s ALWAYS a random vegetable plant sprouting up out there!
I love the look of flowers, but I rarely do any planting because I’m scared of bugs. My mother, however, is a warrior against bugs, and planted a bunch of random flower bulbs that re-grow every year. It’s always a surprise to see what will come, because she long forgot what she planted.
When we first bought our house we found a really odd looking bush that had no leaves and curly branches. We called it the Halloween bush! We were certain it was dead so we dug it out. Years later I saw one exactly like it at a local nursery and it was EXPENSIVE! Oops! :)
Unfortunately the last unexpected thing I found growing in my yard was army worms! They’ve killed a good portion of the grass which has to be replaced …whomp, whomp… Crossing my fingers that next Spring the lawn will be green again!
Unfortunately I’m only finding discarded plants thriving in my brush pile. GO FIgure.
I am in awe! I have been unable to sustain my hydrangea over the heat of the Aussie summers – think I may have to steal your idea of the soaker hose.
Yes! A tree in my flower bed. I kept pulling it think My it was a weed but it kept sprouting back year after year. Went on vacation for a few weeks and it for some good growth on it so I could finally see it was a tree. Now I’m nurturing it and hope to transplant in the backyard :-)
No, nothing unexpected in my garden but we have tulips that grow in our backyard!
Yes I always find little pine trees growing in my garden.
Nothing unexpected, exactly, but I love when I buy a new house: waiting to see what comes up where in the spring! My last house was pretty disappointing. ????
When I bought my house last year it was nearly winter and nothing was growing. This Spring and Summer has been very surprising: I have English Ivy growing on my fence, that I have already had to take down once; I have found a wondering vine in my front yard, that sadly was removed when I fixed up the landscaping; and I found a random bush or tree that seems determined to take down a side of my fence. All in all, its been interesting to get to know what is growing in my yard, learn it, work with it and make my yard my own.
Loved seeing little strawberries pop up in an old raised bed. They smell amazing.
Not exactly something growing, but I did dig up my mother’s engagement ring in the garden when I was a small child. I didn’t know what it was, so I asked her if I could keep it because it was shiny. She said it had been missing for years!
I planted my 1st hydrangea just a couple of months ago! I found a sad looking, 1/2 price plant at Home Depot. Now it’s thriving and we have our 1st bloom! I’m excited to see what color we end up with if we don’t do any ph changes to the soil.
Not much unexpected in our current home, but we just bought a new home (escrow closes early next month!) that will definitely bring some surprises as it’s a larger, overgrown property.
FYI – dried hydrangea blooms are beautiful tucked in to Christmas decorations!
We just bought a house in Hapeville not too long ago. When we purchased it from the previous owners that had already had a massive section of edible plants growing in the yard (i.e. blueberries, mint, rosemary, oregano, strawberries, etc), but the most surprising thing we found was a small grape vine growing along the fence! It was amazing and one many reasons that we purchased the house. The only downside is that our rambunctious greyhound is know for marking his “territory” and takes pride in marking all our edible plants *insert angry emoji*. We have planted some pumpkin seeds and okra and put up yellow string to keep him out, but it looks…ugly. How do you keep your pooch out of your flower bed?
Honestly, I don’t. She gets yelled at but she doesn’t seem to enjoy marking where I’ve laid mulch (not sure why).