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I have dreamt of having my own hydrangea bushes and walking out the door in my pretty little frock and plucking lovely stems from my very own garden.

This summer, it is a reality.
Well, maybe not the “pretty little frock” part, but the “plucking my own stems” part.

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When you buy a run-down repossessed property, or if you build you own house, most times there is no landscaping, and it just takes a lot of patience to plant small young plants and wait for years until it grows and blooms!

These I planted these three years ago, from very very tiny plants. I had saved up birthday money or something of the sort, and wanted to buy an assortment of plants for our barren yard.

And, wanting to make that money stretch, I bought small plants.

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Three years later, lots of fertilizer and watering, adding ferns [that were leftover from my front porch at the end of the year that I cut in two or four parts and planted], and I so love it. It’s simple, so simple, but such loveliness. It draws attention to the flowers rather than our falling-down deck. Ha!

And maybe by next year I can learn how to actually determine the colors, rather than being surprised. :)

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Of course, some must be brought indoors and enjoyed as long as possible…

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There are some things about life that are so hard for me to grasp.
Beauty and pain, I’m thinking of now.

Sometimes I almost feel guilty for enjoying life, enjoying beauty, when there are so many painful things in this world.

Why was I not born in a slum in India?
Why do I know love and comfort rather than misery and rejection?
Why was I given a family, a home, when others are orphans and homeless people?

And I’m over here exclaiming about hydrangeas.

I guess what I come back to is this:
I do not worship the beauty I see; I worship the God who created the beauty.

Sometimes it feels my heart is torn by the pain I see others experiencing, here and far away.
I want to do something for those who cannot help themselves.
I don’t want to pretend the world is fine and everyone is going to Heaven.

And yet, regardless of the terrible things in the world,
not minimizing them, but even in the middle of them,
God is worthy of worship.

He is worthy of me noticing His creation, the beautiful things He’s made,
those things that are a glimpse of how He created life and the world to be,
and for me to stop in the middle of the busyness of life and be delighted with Him.

I don’t ever want to stop noticing.

Whether it’s a pink hydrangea outside my back door.
Or a picture that turned out better than I expected.
Or that teasing twinkle in my baby’s eye.
That big strong tender man that is my husband.
Those little-girl giggles coming from the bedroom.
That beautiful morning light, picture-perfect.
That little note from a friend that was the encouragement I needed.
The voice message from a sister.
Little raindrops on a leaf.
Those little simple delights.

It’s endless, really.
In this world I never will be able to reconcile the extreme beauty and pain,
but I do want to live with eyes to see Him, to see His beauty,
and mostly, with a heart to worship.



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38 thoughts on “Dreamy Hydrangeas.

  1. Linda Yoder

    Oh they are so beautiful!! I have my one little plant in the back flower bed that is also about 3 years old, but not as healthy looking as yours! I may need some tips! :) I better get off of here so I don’t miss ABeka’s online event. :)

  2. Thelma

    Love hydrangeas too! I am so pleased, last year i planted a bush and it is still alive!! I too am curious what affects the color, I thot it was something in the soil ph. last year when I bought the bush, it had the blue/light purple color, as did my neighbors bushes. This year it’s very light pink, like yours, and so is my neighbors-an entirely differant shade then last summer. So I’m wondering if the overall weather affects them too…..it was much much warmer last summer.

    1. Michelle

      Thelma, you can totally manipulate the color of hydrangeas by the acid content of the soil. Alkaline equals pink, acid equals blue. You can get something called holly tone ( I think, it’s been awhile since I bought it ) to make them blue. If you want pink, add lime. I usually add the acid stuff in the Spring, but you have to do it every year so if you do it next Spring, it may be the following year before they really turn blue. Most hydrangeas actually form the buds for next year on this years growth. What’s really funny is that you can turn the color with vinegar after you pick it, but you have to be careful not to add too much or you’ll burn the bloom.

      1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

        I know I’m not Thelma, but see, this is exactly what I need: someone to tell me what to do and then I’ll go do it! :) I knew that the colors are dependent on acid and alkaline, but I had no idea what to put on them to MAKE the soil acid or alkaline! Now I know! Yay! Now I’m excited to go nurture my plants. :)

  3. Krista Miller

    Maybe there’s hope for my hydrangeas. =) I was given two plants and this spring I planted them. I’ll have to get some pointers from you on how to grow them. Yours are gorgeous!!

  4. Angela

    I love your hydrangeas & wish I had some too … but more than that, I love your words that went along with them. Your perspective is spot on & I appreciate you sharing.

  5. Cindy Fox

    I love hydrangeas too, one of my favorite plants/bushes… but oh so hard for me to get them to grow and bloom. I saw one little flower starting to bloom the other day and my heart soared! Like you said, in enjoying all the beauty around me that God created and ‘beauty’ that I haven’t seen for 4yrs!
    But I also totally get what you are saying in feeling the pain that so.many.people face everyday! we are so undeserving, but so blessed. I also know that my dear friends across the ocean see beauty in everyday life too… just in different things/ways than I see it. And I want to learn from them. To see life through eyes of gratefulness for the things I have and not complaining about how I wish life were or things I want…
    And I want to stop and worship God in the midst of the beauty He’s created and the place He’s placed me!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this… enjoyed it!!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Cindy, I would love to see you again!! Welcome back! :) And wow, you could write a book on your life the past few years! And I’m sure you returned with a perspective of gratitude and a heart full for people… wow. I hope to hear about it someday! xo

  6. Kellie

    What a beautiful post and gorgeous pictures of your hydrangeas! I love what you said about enjoying the God who created such beauty. I tell my kids that He made beautiful things purely for our enjoyment. Your blog always inspires me to work harder to create a beautiful home for my family.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thank you, Kellie! And so true what you tell your kids – God is just so creative and so kind to do that for us…And it’s fun to keep in touch with you here in our new ‘blogospheres’! :)

  7. Hope Helmuth

    Lovely hydrangeas. The husband just bought me one so I’m learning about how to care for them. I am learning why they have ‘hydro’ in their name. Water is needed often.
    Sobering thoughts… my mind goes to the verse, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” That’s a good one for me to keep in my pocket and remember:) I’m leaving inspired!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      I never thought about the fact that they have “hydro” in their name, but I have noticed they wilt so fast without water! They are such beautiful plants that it’s so enjoyable to learn to care for them!

      And good good verse… Spot on!

  8. jan

    Try giving you leftover coffee and used grounds to your plant. I like to “feed” only half (like dump it on the back half) to give one bush lovely variety.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      I have been faithfully feeding my one hydrangea the leftover coffee and grounds the past few days, thanks to you! :) I so look forward to seeing how it will vary from the others because of it! Thanks for the tip!

  9. Jessica

    Your “WHY?” questions connect with me. I’ve been so blessed also and I wonder what does it mean? I want to let these blessings from God flow through me to reach others. I don’t want to hoard those blessings. But it’s HARD. It’s hard to enjoy and worship instead of becoming infatuated with what I have. It’s even hard to not take it all for granted.
    I know you don’t know me, but what you’re saying resonates in me, so I’m commenting here. ;) I want to be for real. Like not just trying to have my actions be real, but to have them come from a heart that’s for real. You may have read Ann Voscamp’s post “A Letter to the North American Church”. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/06/a-letter-to-the-north-american-church-because-it-is-time/
    In my mind at least, it goes with what you’re saying. Thanks for this post! :)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      I just read that letter by Voskamp this morning… Wow, what a sobering thing to read!! But how needed it is, to shake us out of our complacency and ingratitude… Wow. And I love that you commented! I love that part about blogging – the meeting of new friends! :)

  10. Elizabeth

    Hydrangeas are my favorite! I have lots of bushes…different varieties. Do you know you can change the colors of the flowers? I also love to dry them. They dry into dark, beautiful colors…perfect for a dried fall bouquet!

    I know what you mean…I often think about my house. I will complain about something I want changed and then think…I have a house! I am complaining because I don’t like this little detail when there are families in Africa living in a cardboard room with a dirt floor. Oh what God must think of my ungratefulness. You are right, He gives us SO much beauty. I love to sit on my back porch and just listen to the birds, watch the leaves on the big old trees move in the breeze, watch the sun glisten on the grass during the sunrise. Yes, so much beauty to take note of.

    Happy Weekend..again. I think I wrote that in my other 8 mile long comment.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author


      And yes, I know you can change the colors of the hydrangea, I just don’t know how!! :) I’m hoping to learn this year, and people have left me different links to check into, so I’m excited about that! But if you have any tips I’d love to learn them!

      And I love your words… I tell my husband you are my “hero mom friend.” :) xoxo

  11. Oie

    Lovely post, we who enjoy so many blessings in more fortuante countries often have the “why me?” question. Sadder still though, is those who share the same blessings – but don’t recognise God or show him gratitude. Oh help us be lights!

  12. Heidi S

    Your hydrandgea are lovely. My dad has probably 20 bushes. He roots them himself. It is super easy. They are loaded with beautifel blooms. I have to keep fresh blooms inside. Picking flowers feels like therapy to my soul. Simple, God given beauty.

  13. Rachel

    Ok, so a friend gave your blog name last night & told me I had to look at it… I have not quit since I found it this morning. Well, I did feed my kiddos lunch & put them down for a nap, but I haven’t gotten much else done!!! I am intrigued to learn about you- first off my Grama was a Barkman before marriage, second- I am from a family of 6 but it’s 5 girls & 1 boy!! (aren’t sisters THE best?!!) third- I am a mom of 3 like you… and I LOVE your decorating!!! I will be a faithful follower of your blog from now on!! Keep the posts coming! Thanks for many inspirations!!

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      You make me laugh out loud! :) So nice to meet you! And your grandmother was a Barkman!? I would love to learn if there was some relation! I know that that is not a common name at all and I rarely have met anyone with that surname! My father’s family comes from Ohio… so maybe that’s a mutual family area? :) And yes! Sisters ARE the best! And you have even more than I! How fun!! Blessings on you!

  14. Delilah

    Hi, I am not a mom but I love to read your blog and enjoy the pictures of your darling children and cute cottage. Someday I want a cottage just like that. :) “Miracle grow” has plant food for hydrangeas called, “color me blue” or “color me pink”. I have 3 big plants at the office where I work and they are multi colorrd, blue, lavender and pink. Love them too.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s so nice to meet you! :) And I’m so glad to know about the Miracle Grow for Hydrangeas! I have used the original Miracle Grow, but I didn’t know they had anything specifically or for particular colors! Great to know that!

  15. Aimee

    Who doesn’t love hydrangeas! =)Though I don’t have any yet they are definitely on my list to add to my yard as we continue (slowly but surely) to landscape. Thankfully there are hardy varieties even I can growing in New Brunswick, Canada. I expand on the cheap to, getting clumps and cuttings from others.
    I don’t comment very often but I am a faithful reader, I love your blogger. You inspire me, even though I could never live up to your decorating skills! =) You do such a lovely job at homemaking as I see it from across the screen and I loved your reasons on your quest post a little while back. I too want my home to be a haven for my family!
    And back to today’s post, thank you for your thoughts on enjoying beauty. Sometimes I just need someone else to say thing better than I ever could so I can say, “yeah, what she said!” . =)
    Oh, and thanks for the tutorial…I made a measuring stick and have gotten lots of compliments on it! =)

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Aimee! So nice to meet you, and thank you for your encouraging words! I was blessed by that!
      And I love to hear that you made a measuring stick!! That makes me so happy! :) I’m glad it turned out well for you!
      Have a lovely day! :)

  16. Rachel

    This is me again! ;) Could I ever email you rather than put all my family history in your comment box? ;) I would love to know if we would be related…

  17. Michelle

    Such gorgeous flowers! I moved away JUST when my three hydrangeas were finally so big you didn’t even notice when I picked flowers. :/ They are my second favorite flower, I think, and soo easy to grow! I connected so much with your thoughts on beauty and the why questions. Sometimes it feels as though the current trend in christianity is to write stirring things about christians suffering physical hardship in other places. I’m not trying to say this is all a bad thing b/c if awareness brings change than I think it brings so much honor to God. But sometimes it feels as though it’s the hip thing or the thing to create an emotional response. But if it doesn’t change one blip about the way someone lives their life … than sometimes it feels more like a cry for attention. I’m having a hard time saying what I’m feeling. I just like what you said …….. we need to care (and give to) for the people in other places, but we also need to live fully where God has placed us … not under some load of guilt that we shouldn’t be enjoying anything because someone else doesn’t have the gift we were given.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      My second-favorite flower too, I think. :) Peonies are my #1 EVER EVER EVER favorite!

      And I connected so well with YOUR thoughts. It can be such a hard thing to find the balance between living unselfishly and focused on the needs of others around the world and yet not feel guilt for what God has given… I’ve thought of it quite a bit since I wrote this particular post, how just because satan has marred the world and brought so much sin and suffering – it does not mean that God is less worthy to be worshipped, or noticed, or enjoyed. And yet not to use that as an excuse for the other side of the spectrum is hard – it seems people are either on one or the other… Somewhere there is a way to live in true worship, right here, and yet live poured out for others at the same time. I want to find that somehow! xoxo

  18. shelly

    I miiiiissss my hydranga bushes of all colors, peonies, flowering pear tree, dogwood, daffodils, daisies, holly, lilies, and so many more that we loved and enjoyed at our old place!! Oh for the day when the new place has something (anything!) but weeds to boast of. :)

  19. Coleen

    Your hydrangeas are beautiful and so are your words! Thank you for pointing my heart in the right direction.
    I know I am a little late commenting on this post, but I have been gone for a month so I am catching up!. While I was gone my sister kept texting me pics of all the flowers she stole off my one hydrangea bush! She gave me it to me for my birthday, so she retains rights. :-)
    This is what I use to get darker blue (the bag I bought has a picture of blue hydrangeas on the front):

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