Bountiful HYDRANGEAS – Shimla

June 2023

June 2022

June 2018

Shimla, the queen of Hills, is a delight in all seasons– but most of all I love Shimla during summers – (despite the mad rush of tourists; where one starts to feel like a stranger in one’s own city) – mainly for thbeautiful HYDRANGEAS all around – in multiple shades – visible in all old buildings and wherever they can be planted and whoever can plant them – adding to the character and charm of the city and around.

At a Friend’s Place in June 2020

My Garden – June 2023

Now the question – why a blog on these flowers – what’s so special about them ?  Because they have an interesting history and many lovable facts and they are BEAUTIFUL. I love them ?

As most of the important names …’Hydrangea’… hydro +angos …is also derived from Greek language – from the words which means water vessel. Now why should it be called ‘water vessel’? Simply because they are ‘ever thirsty flowers’ and require lots and lots of water, even the cut ones. Yes – if the Hydrangeas are not watered regularly and sufficiently their leaves actually plonk like a dog’s ear.

Hydrangeas are originally from Japan  (Ajisai in Japanese) and travelled to North and South America. Though now the fossil evidences show that some varieties of Hydrangea were natives to North America also and only few varieties travelled from Japan and became popular as land scape and wedding flowers. Their arrival in Europe was however quite late when a colonist brought it back from America in 1736. How they reached India is not known but definitely they are not our native plants. Today, there are almost 75 varieties of Hydrangeas and they are found all over Asia, America and Europe where they are known as ‘hortensias’ as well. 

At Mashobhra – June 2022

Come mid-May and the flowers on Hydrangea start blooming and how beautifully they bloom – lots of flowers forming one big round bunch – like a ‘pom-pom’. Did you know that Hydrangeas are also known to be – “Symbolic of Boastfulness”? Yes and they also represent “gratitude, Grace and Beauty”.

Interestingly Hydrangea is one flower which symbolizes different emotions in different continents. In Japan they became associated with heartfelt emotions and gratitude for understanding and apology after a Japanese emperor gave them to the family of a girl he loved but was neglecting because of his royal responsibilities. In America they are seen as a symbol of abundance and love. Contrastingly they had a negative sentiment in Europe where they were seen as a symbol of arrogance and frigidity. India, it is popular for vibrant blooms, good luck, fortune, elegance and royalty. So varied that it’s surprising.

Gables Homes  Mashobhra – June 2021

 Hydrangeas are mainly found in Pink, Blue, dark pink, white, green and all shades of lavender to violet to Purple. They change colors depending on the Ph of the soil. The higher the Ph – the blooms are bluer. White and deep pink do not change colors – only pink and blue do.


Like its symbolism, the meaning behind the different colors of Hydrangea is also fascinating.

  • Pink hydrangeas – show romance, sincerity, love and marriage – basically heartfelt emotions – perfect for weddings
  • Blue hydrangeas – symbolize apology, regret and rarity – a way of admitting that you are sorry
  • White hydrangeas – symbolize boasting or bragging but also purity and elegance.
  •  Purple hydrangeas – symbolizes pride, royalty and deep understanding and is considered a nice gift on the fourth wedding anniversary.
  • Green Hydrangeas-  symbolizes renewal and birth, prosperity and health.

Why such classification – I could not find out despite my extensive search. These meanings and symbols are age old like grandma’s stories and are just getting carried from generations to generation.

But do you know that these petals of hydrangea are actually green Sepals to protect the flower bud and they turn colorful as they age due to overpowering pigmentation.

 In India they are mostly found in all the Himalayan states – J&K, Himachal, Uttaranchal and North eastern states. They require moderate, wet and cold climate. They do not propogate on their own but have to be planted. They are majorly found in areas inhabited by the Britishers – perhaps they only propagated them in their areas in the hills.

Some enthusiasts do try to grow them in the plains and at times succeed also but the abundance is missing. Hydrangea is basically a sturdy plant which can be planted both in pots and on the land. If cared well it can last up-to 50 years and more. So if they are going to stand outside your home for so long – they definitely demand love.

 The plant is not fond of too much direct sun, prefers a bit of a shade and moist soil. Lots of natural compost and some pruning depending on its variety and proper watering while they are blooming – and they are ready to smile for you for 2-3 months -from May to July. I asked a friend – an avid gardener – on how to take care of these lovely plants and she said, “Lots and lots of Love and Indulgent conversation every time you see them…they are so pushy they want praise and loving touch all the time.” And I am totally ready to believe as she has the most gorgeous Hydrangeas ever.

 There are some interesting facts about hydrangeas

5th January is International Hydrangea day

It’s correctly pronounced as – “Hai –dran –juh” and not as we mostly do – “hai – drain – jee –ah” (I have started to pronounce it correctly from today itself).

Interestingly the lush and bountiful Hydrangeas contain low levels of poison cyanide, hence is not edible except for one variety which is used as ‘purifying tea’ by the Buddhists.

And that is why Hydrangeas get saved from all the monkeys and other animals as they are toxic….good for us to plant them to smile for us for years.

It has limited representation in Literature that too mainly in poems.


In Shimla there are certain places where they can been seen in their full glory –and all the  visitor to Shimla must try to see them… starting from the Cedar House (the state rest house of the Punjab Government), all old Shimla houses and schools, the Anandale Golf Club and Army Museum, the Naldehra Golf Club, the Fair lawns HIPA, the entire Mashobhra homes and colonies, the resorts and hotels especially the Chalet Naldehra and My Sweet Little Home garden.

The Majestic Cedar House – gives a feel of New England in US which is full of Hydrangeas like here

Naldehra Golf Course in Shimla – June 2021 and 2022 – Pics clicked by Sunita Mishra and myself

Fair Lawns – HIPA – Pics by Jyoti Rana

Army Museum – June 2023

Chalet Naldhera – a Resort Known for its greenery – June 2018

My Sweet Home – an entire hill side is now home to Hydrangeas

Though the Hydrangeas bloom only for 2 months and a little more – but the wait is worth it and rest of the time the plant is a beautiful green foliage. Hydrangea blooms all over bringing  “good luck and fortune” and  “gratitude, happiness and enlightenment” with them. 

July is the best time to plant them – either a plant or a cutting…do it now and enjoy them next year.

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