The Hydrangea Collection
The Hydrangea Collection, completed in fall 2008, transformed a drainage area covered with half an acre of poison ivy into a garden that offers a sense of peacefulness permeated by hues of red, blue and white from early May to late September. Located by the intersection of Perimeter Road and Hwy. 76, the hydrangeas offer a long span of color during a time in the growing season when color is often absent, and they are showy when the flowering azaleas and rhododendrons are finished.
The goal of the new Hydrangea Collection was two-fold. Its primary function is to serve as one of the Garden’s educational components, heightening the public’s awareness of hydrangea and the diversity of color, texture and form they offer. Garden staff are frequently asked questions about hydrangeas, such as, “When do I prune my hydrangeas?” or “Why are my hydrangea flowers blue when I purchased plants with pink flowers?” These questions are addressed in the interpretive signs along the winding paths. Guests can make visual comparisons of the different species of hydrangeas in our collection while reading signs about cultural requirements. Visitors can gain a better understanding of how soil chemistry affects flower color of the Hydrangea macrophylla and Hydrangea serrata cultivars, as well as the differences in the flower types of lacecaps and hortensias (commonly referred to as mop heads). Surprisingly, many are unaware that Hydrangea arborescens, the smooth hydrangea, and Hydrangea quercifolia, the oakleaf hydrangea, are native to our region, and in some areas are found growing together. All of this and more is brought together through comprehensive interpretation.
The second goal of the Hydrangea Collection was beautification. Transforming a former eyesore into a beautiful plant collection has brought attention to the Garden at one of the University’s and city’s busiest intersections. In recent years, both the City of Clemson and Clemson University have taken great strides to enhance our quality of living by beautifying the community. The Garden staff has whole-heartedly supported these efforts by upgrading our landscape interfaces with campus and city. As a result, we believe that in the near future, visitors to our community will see the city, campus and Botanical Garden as one contiguous garden.