Gardener Jacqui Brocklehurst on hydrangeas, otherwise known as mopheads

PUBLISHED: 21:41 02 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:49 20 February 2013

Gardener Jacqui Brocklehurst on hydrangeas, otherwise known as mopheads

Gardener Jacqui Brocklehurst on hydrangeas, otherwise known as mopheads

Roses are dead, violets are gardener Jacqui Brocklehurst waxes lyrical about hydrangeas, sometimes known as mopheads

Mention drought-resistant planting to me and you will witness a sardonic raising of the eyebrows and a snort of derision. Suggest new and novel ways to conserve water on the half-submerged allotments and I will begin to laugh hysterically before falling on my knees with a miserable squelch.

Its been bad, no, its been truly awful and how anything has survived, let alone thrived is a mystery. The slug and snail population has boomed this summer: they have munched their merciless way through the begonias and the brassicas leaving nothing but a tell-tale silvery trail in their wake.

Its the Albertine rose, that drapes itself so elegantly across the archway into my garden, that saddens me most. Every summer it blooms with such vigour and promise, festooned with a myriad of tiny buds, waiting to unfurl. Then comes the rain, endless and relentless, and the petals turn brown and ugly. Refusing to open, they cling on defiantly until I can stand it no longer and painstakingly remove them, one by one.

But other plants are triumphant. This summer the hydrangeas have been resplendent and have put on a showstopping display. Masses of blooms with intricate hues in reds, pinks, blues and white have been capturing the lime light and its easy to see why.

Hydrangeas are easy to grow shrubs that thrive in cool, shady situations in moist but well-drained soil. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes but it is the mopheads that captivate me.

Mopheads (hydrangea macropyhlla) can be purchased with white, pink or blue flowers. The white flower varieties will continue to produce white flowers, it is the pink and blues varieties that are susceptible to colour change. It is the pH of the soil that affects the colour: acid soils will encourage blue flowers while alkaline conditions produce pink flowers.

The best way to maintain the colour of your choice, be it pink or blue, is to grow the shrub in a pot. Choose a large pot with plenty of room for growth. Plant your hydrangea and position in a cool, shady spot, keep well watered and enjoy a glorious display of long lasting blooms throughout the summer and into autumn.

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