Hydrangea bush in the Fellows' Garden of Christ's College, Cambridge

I have a mental block against the word hydrangea. Perhaps this will get rid of it for me.

I stand in front of a hydrangea and my brain feels like it is being squeezed. I am taken back immediately to the front gardens of the houses I would pass on my way to the bus stop to go to school.

I hated those hydrangea bushes. They were the epitome of all that was unpleasant about the life I saw around me.

Oh, poor hydrangea bushes, that you should be sacrificed on the altar of my teenage displeasure. Now I try to like you, but I cannot get past you bloody names.

So, here to dispel old traumas – a post in homage to an innocent.


Greek hudro- ‘water’ + angeion ‘vessel’ (from the cup shape of its seed capsule).


  1. Joan E. Miller says:

    Oh how very funny!!! I associate hydrangeas with my childhood too, only it’s a very sweet memory. I always recalled the big blue balls we must have had around our apartments. I never knew the name back then. Years later I discovered what they were and had to have some in my garden. Today I have lovely blue hydrangeas, plus some others that are lace caps in blue and lavender, and a big ball one in deep pink. I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. writemeow says:

    … in Swedish they’re called ‘hortensia’.


    1. Interesting – I googled and it says this for Hydrangea: “The earlier name, Hortensia, is a Latinised version of the French given name Hortense, referring to the wife of Jean-André Lepaute” More googling and Jean-André Lepaute was a clockmaker to Royalty and Nicole-Reine Lepaute, his wife, was an astronomer who predicted the return of Halley’s Comet by calculating the timing of a solar eclipse and constructing a group of catalogs for the stars.


      1. writemeow says:

        Fascinating how much influence of French language in Swedish. It’s all about the royalties. When I lived in Quebec, so many words popped up … words I’d _never_ paid attention to/figured being ‘French’. The thing is, in Swedish they changed the spelling of them … for example, words in French containing the letter-combination eau became å. And ‘eu’ became ö … as in furniture: meubles – möbler.


        1. That’s a good clue to understand how Swedish is constructed.

          There’s a change from French to English – when there is a circumflex in the French, as in hôpital, the English put an ‘s’ in there – hospital.


        2. writemeow says:

          Yeah, the ‘historical’ s … hôtel too.

          There was a hospital in Quebec City called Hôtel-Dieu! … God’s hotel


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