Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Historic Hydrangea Gardens at Moses Cone Estate
A unique collaborative project began earlier this spring at the Moses Cone Estate on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Members from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation contacted Extension agent Meghan Baker to discuss the historic hydrangea garden plantings around Bass Lake on the Moses H. Cone Estate. What evolved was a community service project between the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the National Park Service, and NC Cooperative Extension and Watauga County Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
Over the course of two days in April, over 350 hydrangea shrubs were pruned and fertilized as an effort to bring them back into proper health. Cooperative Extension utilized this as an opportunity to teach Extension Master Gardener interns the art of pruning Hydrangea paniculata. Volunteers pruned in the sun one day and in rain the next, but their pruning persistence was unwavering. It is hoped that this project will become an annual community service project for Extension Master Gardener volunteers and interns.
It is a rare opportunity to be able to contribute to the renewal and preservation of such historical plantings. The hydrangea gardens are thought to be the work of Moses's wife, Bertha. They were planted soon after the turn of the century but were left unattended after Bertha's death around 1950. Through the funding efforts from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the crowding tree canopy was removed to allow these specimens once again to come into grand display. Other Parkway volunteers have contributed to the effort as well in the past.
Look for the Hydrangea paniculatas to bloom in late summer and fall, with their graceful white blooms aging to a rich rose color. They are truly a sight to behold!