Hydrangea/ 紫陽花/ 繡球花
Hydrangea is pronounced as Hydringea which is why if you google searched, you will not find an entry for Hydringea.
Hydrangeas is part of me. When I was a kid in Tropical Borneo, I lived with my Grandpa who left China in his 20s. He told us fairy tales the same way as western children read in books. He spoke of the hydrangea flower which is known as the embroidery ball flower. In this fairy tale love story, when a girl comes of age, she would stand in her balcony and throw her embroidered ball to the young men waiting down in the garden. The young man who catches the ball wins her hand. I joked with Grandpa, what if an ugly fat man catches up, Grandpa laughed, he said, "Why do you have to ruin an aged old story?"
This plant reminds me of my late Grandfather who told me that in China, it is known an embroidered flower ball, "SIAW CHOW FA". 繡球花 In Chinese movies, a girl will throw her flower ball to a group of admirers, the lucky chap who catches the ball will wed her. Woe to her, if a nasty obnoxious man catches the ball.
It is fictitious, because it never happens this way. There were match making sessions.
The 17th c. woodcut print was designed by Ding Liangxian (Ch. 丁亮先). Not much, if anything, is known about this artist, but the curatorial notes are interesting on the subject of hydrangeas in Chinese art. They state that in China it was called the “embroidered ball” flower and adds that just such a ball was thrown by an unmarried woman into a crowd of men. The one who caught it became her husband. It also notes that an embroidered ball is often seen under the paw of a male Fu or guardian dog. Fu here means Buddha (佛) – hence the Lion of Buddha.
I was lucky to live in houses that have hydrangea hedges. In the first house, the hedge was at the main road at Mt Eden Road, I used to cut them and take it to church during my turn to do the flowers. Often, little old women would stop their cars and help themselves with branches of flowers. I didn't have the heart to shout at them. After all, God gave me those flowers. In fact, later I learnt that they were doing me a favour. Hydrangea likes to be pruned and the next season, they would grow better.
At this present house, I pruned it only once. That is why the flowers are not so beautiful. A friend said that if I leave tin cans at the roots, the rust would change it colour to a dark red hue. I thought of "Hawaii" where James Michener had written about this either for the pineapple gardens or sugar cane farms. It's been so long ago. I have forgotten.
Then when I told this to my florist friend, W. he says it is better with the pale coloured ones. So I stopped putting cans. It blew my mind when I saw the completely white ones at my friend M.'s kitchen. It could be used as bridal bouquet. May be next time, I should pour beach instead. LOL