The Magic Of Hydrangeas – Nature’s Litmus Papers

Though in many of my calendar designs I have used my flower shots, all the flowers featured there were either grown on roadside trees or they were some weeds or wildflowers – as they are commonly called.

This is so, because I have a soft spot for the understated, unassuming elegance of wildflowers, as against those seen in urban gardens – grown in a sophisticated, orderly fashion and groomed to perfection.

However, this summer, a bunch of garden flowers caught my attention. And they did so quietly, like any other thing in nature. Also they had me enough in awe to manage to be in my calendar!

The other day as I was walking through the community garden behind my place when I had the glimpse of some ornamental Pink flowers – snowball shaped bunches, made of a number of  tiny blooms inside.

The flowers looked pretty, but I just passed by them without giving them even a second look, leave alone taking their pictures.

Just another common staple of the showy city gardens – I had thought.

I must have seen those flowers somewhere else before, I kind of knew.

But what I did not know at all, was something very curious and dramatic, and I was about to find that out soon…


Well, after around a month, I happened to walk by the same spot again.

And voila!!!

They were gone!!!

Or….They were not… :)

I could see the same snowball blooms, same plants, in the exact same spot, but, most of them were turned to this gorgeous shade of Blue! If it was not for some flowers and petals that were still pink, it was just impossible to believe that I was looking at the same bunch of flowers!


It got me very curious and I researched for their identity.

These flowers are called “Hydrangeas”. And it turned out that they take up color according to pH level of soil!

“Nature’s very own litmus papers!” that was the immediate thought that came up in mind as I fondly remembered the chemistry laboratory in school.

Remember litmus paper?  If you dip it in a liquid and the paper turns blue, the liquid is an acid.  If the paper turns pink, the liquid is alkaline.

But wait, there is a little twist here. Hydrangeas’ behavior is exactly the reverse of the litmus paper.  Their blooms are blue in acidic soil and pink in alkaline soil!

Not sure whether the soil had turned alkaline only naturally or the gardener had manipulated it to make the Hydrangeas change their color so dramatically, but I knew if I visited them after few more days, I could see them as all blue…

My little wait paid off and I took this shot after that, exclusively, for the July 2016 calendar.


P.S: I still regret not taking pictures of their pink avatar. I had realized my loss only after they had gone.

Here is a beautiful song by Lana Del Rey with Hydrangeas in the lyrics… :)


Share your thoughts! :)