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The hydrangea was a common sight in Victorian gardens. It was a hardy shrub, although people often grew it as a glasshouse, or window, specimen. The Hydrangea hortensis, pictured to the left, was a very common window decoration, and many thousands were sold each year in the market gardens of London. The shrub was hardy out of doors, however, and many were to be seen over southern England, some immense specimens among them.

Hydrangeas preferred a ‘fat’ soil – a fertile loam with a considerable amount of fat manure dug into it. Planting should be done in spring, and could stand any amount of water in summer, together with addition of a weak liquid manure feed.

In the greenhouse cuttings could be taken in the summer, when the new growth would readily strike.

The hydrangea was, Hibberd remarked, the amateur gardener’s ‘pet’.

Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.

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