By Jaakko Saari
12 Jun 2008
During June, the air turns humid in Japan. Although it's not the actual summer yet, it is sweltering. This season awakens not only the insect life in Japan, but also brings Hydrangea to it's full glory.
This is truly a stunning flower. In their full bloom they are formed like a sphere, and calyxes, which look like flower petals, open up and expose the actual flower inside.
There are various versions of hydrangea in Japan. Purple and pink ones seem most common but some are blue and others include tones of yellow and red. Before blooming, the calyxes have hue of green and yellow.
Hydrangea is a popular target for amateur and semi-professional photographers in Japan. It is without a question one of the most popular flower, winning Satsuki, a Japanese azalea hands (or should I say petals) down. People shoot macro photos of them and take pictures of them with their cellphones with people posing next to them. Cities such as Kamakura get most of their visitors in June, the time of hydrangea.
Hydrangea is also an interesting plant also because of it's secret - it accumulates aluminium. It's the aluminium in the soil which gives the flower it's blue color. Alkaline soils instead are known to produce pink or reddish color.
Hydrangea means 'water barrel' and means either the shape of the fruit, or the fact that the flower needs a lot of water. Hydrangea really drinks a lot. But hydrangea is also suitable for drying. Most common varieties sold are Hydrangea macrophylla (rounded cluster) and Hydrangea paniculata (pyramidal cluster) and they last about two weeks if taken care well.
Hydrangea is said to be a flower which expresses Japanese woman's soul. They have extraordinary character in them, and yet they are modest, blooming in shadows as if not to attract too much attention.