The things we take for granted

When my husband and I were married, I really wanted hydrangeas to decorate the church. Admittedly, I was influenced by Martha Stewart, but those giant deep purple globes had such presence, such panache and would be a perfect backdrop for the periwinkle blue dresses of my bridesmaids. Alas, we lived in Anchorage, Alaska and it was July. Hydrangeas don’t grow well there and even the most intrepid gardeners I knew didn’t have them in their yard. Undaunted, I went to a local nursery and they agreed to let me rent potted hydrangeas for the wedding. 

A week before the big event, I dropped in to pay for the flowers and when I saw the pots, I was disappointed to see how puny the flowers looked. None of the buds were open and the plants looked like leafy sticks. The owner promised they would do some kind of plant-based magic to get them blooming in time for the wedding. On the big day, a friend agreed to pick up the hydrangeas and place them around the church. I didn’t see them until I walked down the aisle. It was one of a very few things I would change about my wedding day. Those spindly sticks were barely blooming—not even close to the gorgeous globes I had imagined. It was a terrible waste of time and money.

Had I known, I might have rented cheaper plants with lots of green foliage and then purchased silk hydrangeas to stick in here and there for color and texture. Hindsight is 20/20.

Now, we live in the Pacific Northwest and our side yard is overrun with the most gorgeous dark purple hydrangeas. They are the perfect flower. When I prune them properly, they bloom from May to September. I love gathering giant bouquets for the house or putting out smaller arrangements in jars for summer gatherings outdoors. The hydrangeas look amazing paired with the pink roses I have growing on the other side of the house. My neighbor shares her green blooms and another shares her burgundy bunches. We are wealthy in our neighborly bloomage. And every year, on the day of our wedding anniversary, I cut some of our own for our dinner table, just to remember how far we’ve come.