“What is this”, I hear you ask. Well, it is big hydrangea flower heads having a swim in the local ‘plaas dam’ (farm reservoir dam). Let me explain, this is my brother, Jan-Georg Solms‘, genius way of hydrating his hydrangea to keep them from wilting and therefore lasting much longer. But don’t they just look fabulous floating around in the deep, dark waters of the dam?
Jan-Georg Solms is the owner of guest farm Halfaampieskraal, situated just two hours drive south from Cape Town, South Africa. This is also incidentally the farm us five children grew up on. Being a huge flower lover himself, and as Jan-Georg have a constant stream of guests visiting from around the world, he ensures that there are always fresh flowers in the house. Hydrangea naturally bloom in the summer months and so also over Christmas time, giving them the local and Afrikaans name of “Krismis Rose”, translating to Christmas Roses. They are well suited to most South African gardens and grew to be majestic round bushes, sporting large round heads of coloured flowers.
Although Jan-Georg does have a few plants on the farm, when he needs them en-mass, he gets them from a local grower and such an outing is always super exciting and breathtaking in equal measures.
Below: local hydrangea grower
Below: Opal coloured varieties to charm any occasion.
Below: Bucket and bucket loads!
After cutting the flowers off the plant, cut the stems on the diagonal, allowing more surface for water absorption.
Dip these cut stems into boiling water for about 30 seconds and then put them into room temperature deep water. The boiling water washes away a sticky sap that occurs after cutting that prevents maximum water absorption.
When the individual flowers on the full head start to look a bit wilted, soak or submerge the whole flower head into water for a good while, about an hour. Their name is not Hydrangea for nothing! This will rescue and revitalise them, giving you a few extra days of blooming time.
Blue vs Pink = the rule is hydrangea grown in alkaline soil, the bloom colors are pinker. When grown in acidic soil, the bloom colors are bluer. This is true for the blues and pinks varieties. But of course to ensure that is very difficult but can be achieved if they are grown in pots so that the soil’s ph balance can be altered and controlled more easily.
Feature by: Theoda Solms Iles
Photos by: Jan-Georg Solms, Halfaampieskraal guest farm