This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
For the first time in this country I believe the climbing Hydrangea has flowered. I have sent on a sample of it to-day to Mr.Blanc, the engraver, and he will hand it over to you as soon as he is through with it, which I presume will be to-day or to-morrow. I sold the plant which has now flowered to Mr. L. H. Meyers of Clifton, L. I., in 1878. It was planted in a group of chestnut trees and very little attention was paid to it until it had started to grow. Then it was syringed frequently, so as to encourage its growth, and now it has attained the height of 30 feet and spreads about 6 feet on each side of the tree. The stem at its thickest part is about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. If you get the flower in good shape you can judge what a grand thing it would be when profusely flowering at that height. It is very similar you will observe in the flower to the old Hydrangea Japonica.
I may state that Mr. Frank Cassidy, who is Mr. Meyers' gardener, informs me that probably the rapid growth of the climbing Hydrangea was due to an accident. There was a wire suspended on which was hung a moss basket just above the plant, and by watering the basket of course considerable moisture fell on the Hydrangea, and thus induced the extraordinary growth which has resulted in its flowering.
[Though this was intended as personal information, Mr. Henderson will, we are sure, pardon this public use of it. The flowers add very much to the value of this plant.
In our experience we have found it to grow slowly till it gets a good start, much as in the case of a similar growing Japan plant, the climbing Euony-mus; but when it gets a good start it grows rapidly. By the way, why is it that our own native climbing Hydrangea, Decumara barbara, has never been in culture - or has anybody got it? The Editor would be glad of a plant. This Japan plant closely resembles it. - Ed. G. M].
Col. Wilder writes: "Strange indeed, that neither you nor Mr. Henderson knew that the Climbing Hydrangea had bloomed in this country before this year. I have shown large branches of it for two or three years at our horticultural society rooms. My plant is ten to twelve feet high, climbing amongst the branches of an old pear tree".
"For the first time in this country, I believe, the Climbing Hydrangea has flowered," says Mr. Peter Henderson, p. 259. In the Rural New Yorker, September 22d, 1883, you will find an account by me of the Climbing Hydrangea that was in blossom in June of that year in the Hon. Marshal P. Wilder's garden, near Boston. It was " climbing up the trunk of a pear tree, which it completely covered in the same way as an English Ivy would. There were several bunches of flowers - immense, broad-spreading, flat cymes, with a few enlarged white sterile flowers near the margin. The flower-heads were not showy, rather more curious than beautiful; but in profusion, on large plants, they must have a most distinct and striking effect." As you say, it grows slowly at first, but as it grows older it becomes vigorous. It is very hardy. It roots along its stems and shoots, as an ivy does, and attaches itself firmly to a rough surface, as the bark of a tree-trunk, but I have never known it to cling tenaciously to a stone surface.
The American Climbing Hydrangea, Decumara barbara, is in cultivation in the Botanic Garden, Cambridge; at least it was there during my time, but I never could get it to assume the vigorous nature of its Asiatic relative, and it isn't as hardy.
Glencove, Long Island, N. Y.