Hydrangeas and the Grumpy Gardeners

Hydrangeas and the Grumpy Gardeners                                                                      

My wife and I both love hydrangeas but disagree about their winter pruning. In 2018 she won the argument and, last year, we had the worst display ever.

The reason? In an effort to make the borders look neat and tidy, she insisted that I prune them hard, cutting off all the brown flowering heads, right down at the base.

I did warn her that the long stems and large but dead flower heads protect tender young shoots from Jack Frost. But off they came, quickly followed by a series of very hard frosts.

The result? The most miserable display of hydrangeas ever.

So this year we are both admiring the fragile beauty of last year’s plants and they won’t disappear until the end of April – or even early May – when the risk of frost has passed – we hope.


Two hydrangea plants currently in our garden. The top picture was cut back too early in the spring and had very little flower. The one below it missed Mrs Grumpy Gardener’s cull and is full of dead flowering heads. Neither of them will be pruned back until all risk of frost has passed so that it will attack last year’s growth and not the new shoots that will bear flowers and leaves to be enjoyed in 2020.

Christmas roses (no, not the choccies)

Christmas came a little late this year in our garden because the Christmas Roses – hellebores to you and me – did not bloom until the first few days of the new year.

It’s always interesting to see who comes out first – snowdrops or hellebores – and this year, by a short lead, the hellebores won.

Some of the later flowering varieties still have 2019’s leaves. I shall not cut them down until this year’s plant spikes are growing through, and then I’ll protect the young shoots with some mulch.

Mucky talk

A farmer acquaintance has let me have two brimming full builder bags of well-rotted cow muck. We put them in the trailer, shovelled the harvest in and drove home with it.

Even I was smiling at this bounty. It was immediately layered onto the surface of the vegetable beds and then rotovated in. It’s a tad late for my liking, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Did you know…

Did you know that St Vincent’s Day was on January 22, and the old weather lore says that if the sun shines on this day “there will be much wind”.

Well the sun did shine – in Staffordshire at least – so we shall have to wait and see.

Another notable date is February 2 – Candlemas. The old lore claims that: “If Candlemas be bright and clear, two winters shall we have this year.” I don’t know where you live, but here we are still waiting for the first one!

Happy Gardening!