Southern Indiana Living

JUL-AUG 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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July/Aug 2018 • 10 The story behind the 'Annabelle' hydrangea A Walk in the Garden with Bob Hill Hydrangeas, Plant History, and Horses T ruth be told the stories of how plants got their names are often as interesting as the plant itself – be- ginning with the ubiquitous 'An- nabelle' hydrangea, or the Hydrangea ar- borescens if it's decorative detail you seek. Annabelle is as common in many gardens — older ones in particular — as sprinklers and the neighbor's dog. Along with an annual display of bright white, snowball blooms, she's easily grown, re- quires little maintenance and can be cut almost to the ground when such pruning is necessary. The latter is because she can get a little floppy in old age, but then again, find me a gardener who doesn't. Annabelle's story begins — and pay close geographic attention here — near the small town of Anna in southern Illinois and a woman named Harriet Kirkpatrick. Harriet's family was in the pottery business — mostly ceramic pigs — which is a story for another day. One day in 1910 she was out horseback-riding in the near- by woods with her sister-in-law, Amy, and saw this wild hydrangea bursting with those white, snowball blooms. Two things were at work here: The first — one of those myster- ies of nature — is how in the world did that plant there? How many years — cen- turies? — of random propagation were required to create this special hydrangea? Our North American woods are full of wild hydrangeas, but most offer only small, dull-white flowers. What were the chances of Annabelle being so bloom- ing special where others had failed? How many bees and other bugs were required to make it happen? The second thing is, how did it hap- pen to grow in the path of Harriet Kirk- patrick? What made her care so much about it? Why did the member of a family "Invincibelle Spirit" Hydrangea

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