Greenhouse Hydrangea With Blue Flowers Forming

At Home Depot I spotted a table with small hydrangeas for sale. I call it a “greenhouse” hydrangea because I imagine that is where it came from. The price was around $12 as I recall, so I bought one. Now I know these are not like the hydrangea plants I purchased in New Hampshire to plant in my northern yard.

The tag on this one said it “likes cool nights” and it’s climate preference is 50-70 F. That’s what “cool” is in Florida. It’s also listed as a Houseplant. This plant obviously can’t take wintering in a dormant stage over several months. Growing hydrangeas this way is new to me.

hydrangea plant with buds
New hydrangea plant
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The Beautiful Bougainvillea

My bougainvillea is just a baby, but it is already reaching over the fence into the front yard. Last year this plant was nearly dead after the cold winter and I thought it was hopeless. Then little green sprouts began to appear at ground level and it continued to grow. You can see a picture of it on this blog post with photos I took last January. It looked dead. Not only did it survive, it went nuts this year!

Light pink flowering bougainvillea on a white fence

Some of the branches were growing awkwardly toward the house, so I trimmed them up and took the flowers inside. They did well in a vase of water until day three, when the flowers began to fall off and make a mess. Bougainvillea is not a long-term bouquet flower.

Light pink flowering bougainvillea in a vase
Cuttings last a couple days, but the stems can grow roots for beginning new plants!

This vining plant is gown in many yards around Florida. It can be huge and looks beautiful draped over a fence or along a wall. I love my light pink flowers, but the deep red is stunning and it comes in many other colors, like orange and yellow.

My bougainvillea is in a semi-shaded location, but they do like lots of sun and will have more flowers. They can be trimmed at any time and this is the first year mine has been so tall and had so many flowers so I’m not sure how long the flowers will last. They don’t need a lot of water either, which is nice. They won’t droop and wilt. But do be careful if the weather turns cold because they don’t like cold temperatures.

The University of Florida has a page all about Bougainvilleas. After reading the page I discovered that they are easy to propagate! I will definitely be trying that. I’ve had success with propagating crotons and cuttings from my rubber plant.

Our Warm Winter of 2019

A few nights this winter the temperatures dropped close to freezing and the only plants I covered outdoors were the crotons in the big pot out front. They were newly planted to replace the beautiful big croton that died in 2018 due to the cold.

This year was so mild, that everything is still big and green. I recently cut back my orange hibiscus which was nearly touching the roof of the house! When nothing freezes back, the plants have a head start in Spring.

Peonies in July, But Not in My Yard

When I first moved to Florida back in 1979, one flowering shrub I missed was my favorite – the Peony. My grandmother had them in her Massachusetts garden around her old white farmhouse, and the huge blooms impressed me as a child. The fluffiness of the blooms were like none I’d seen, and the peony instantly became my favorite flower.

This page contains my photos of the peonies I planted and tended for the five years I lived in my New Hampshire house.  They bloomed in July, so I thought I’d treat myself to a trip back in time, when I could walk into my yard and see these beautiful blooms.  I wonder if the new homeowners are enjoying them today.


I live in Florida for 27 years, without growing any peonies in my landscape. I had everything else a southern gardener could grow. I had white and yellow jasmine along my fence. Camellias of all colors grew under the shade of the big live oaks in my 2.5 acre yard. I had a magnolia tree, orange tree, gardenias, hibiscus, crotons, and bougainvillea, lots of crepe myrtle, a stag horn fern, and more that I can’t remember now.  But peonies don’t grow in the deep south.

I really missed seeing peony flowers, and when I moved back to New England in 2005, I couldn’t wait to have some growing in my yard. Unfortunately, I ended up not having a yard of my own to plant them in until years later. But once I had my own home, I went out and bought a peony bush. I believe the Sarah Bernhardt (light pink flowering peony) was the first, and I can’t find a picture of that flower in my photos… but that one is my favorite.  (I’ll keep looking for a picture!)

I don’t recall the name of this white flowering Peony. I always kept the name of the plant in the soil beneath the shrub so I could recall the name. I no longer live there, and I’ve forgotten.

I know that the bright pink flower, with the yellow center is the Karl Rosenfeld. It’s not as fluffy as the other types I grew, but it was unique.

Peony flowers don’t last long.  I loved to photograph the buds too.  If I missed a day or two, and didn’t go outside (due to weather) I could miss the prime blooming time!

Most of my peonies – 3 plants – grew along an old wooden fence near the driveway.  The Karl Rosenfeld was planted out back.  The front gardens, near the house got too much sun for growing peonies, so I reserved that area for sun-loving shrubs.

Peonies are easy to grow, but some years they don’t get many flowers.  When they do bloom, ants can be found crawling all over the flowers.  Usually a cage or holder of some kind is needed to keep the stems upright once they flower.  It’s best to put the cage up and let the stems grow up through.

Viewing a sprouting peony in Spring, was just what I needed after a long cold winter!  Here they come….

peony in early spring
The Peony in Spring

Pinky Winky Photos to Cheer Us in January

What better time to share my end-of-summer flower photography than in the freezing cold month of January?  I began this post back in September but got side-tracked.  So now I can post my photos of one of my favorite flowers.

I happen to love the bloom of the Pinky Winky shrub. The flower is so interesting with it’s combination of open and closed petals in colors that range from dark pink to white. The cone shape grows longer and longer as the coloring changes.

This perennial has consistently created the most blooms of all the types I grow. We’ve had a bit of a drought here in the northeastern US over the summer, but the plant never wilts. Bees love the flowers of the Pinky Winky too. For this reason it might be best planted away from sitting areas. I don’t mind bees, but some people like to avoid being near them. I feel good having such a lovely bee-feeder in my yard.

pink hydrangea
Pinky Winky Flower

I had a tree fall and get stuck up in neighboring trees and I had to have it taken down for safety reasons. It was near my driveway, and when the guys cut it and pulled it down, it landed partially on my Pinky Winky! A branch broke off, and a few flowers, but otherwise the perennial survived. This poor plant always seems to be in the wrong place.
hydrangea paniculata pinky winky
Now that summer is behind us and we’re in the midst of winter, it’s nice to be reminded of what waits for us in spring. Seeing the first green stems burst through the ground, and early flowering plants like the Lenton Rose, remind us of the big hydrangea blooms to come.

pink hydrangea macro