By midsummer, one needn’t look far to find thriving hydrangeas. Requiring little more than regular watering and a bit of shade – and crowned with glorious, billowy heads of tiny flowers – they are a perennial favourite among gardeners.
Another reason for their popularity lies in their remarkable ability to achieve a particular colour based on soil conditions. For example, one of the stamps features the cultivar 'Endless Summer', a Hydrangea macrophylla which is Greek for bigleaf hydrangea. Growers can achieve pink, blue or lavender flowers, depending on how acidic or alkaline the soil is and how much aluminum it contains.
The Hydrangea arborescens, or smooth hydrangea – a species native to the eastern United States – is represented by the bulbous, snow-white blossoms of the cultivar 'Annabelle'.
With spring just around the corner, Canada Post continues its perennially popular flower series with two new stamps featuring the billowy and showy hydrangea cultivars beloved by Canadian gardeners. A celebration of beauty to come, these beautiful blossoms continue a long tradition of flower stamps often sought after by gardeners, plant enthusiasts and brides.
Endless Summer, a cultivar of bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla), is shown on the stamp with pink blossoms, while Annabelle, a cultivar of smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens), sports large, snow-white flower heads.
With approximately 23 species and hundreds of named cultivars – and new ones being introduced – the genus Hydrangea boasts widespread appeal. The name merges the Greek word hydro, meaning water, and angeion, meaning vessel or jug, to evoke the spherical shape of the open flower head. Mostly native to southern and eastern Asia – with other species calling North and South America home – many cultivars draw the eyes of Canadian gardeners. Part of the growing interest in hydrangeas lies in the plant’s relatively few needs to thrive: it requires adequate moisture and grows best with some shade.
The stamps illustrate yet another attractive quality of hydrangeas. While white is a common colour, some species develop flowers of different colours, depending on the pH of the soil. Acidic soil creates blue flowers, neutral soil creates cream-coloured blossoms, and alkaline soil produces purple or pink, as exemplified by the stamp image of Endless Summer.
Designed by Benny Corrigan, art directed by Karen Satok and David Sacha of Sputnik Design Partners Inc., and illustrated by Marie-Élaine Cusson, these stamps were inspired by rich and opulent traditional botanical drawings, which are known for their high-contrast tones, sumptuous colours and minute attention to detail.
Satok explains, “Because the stamps themselves are botanical drawings, we wanted the complete hydrangea program to contain some interesting contrasts that went beyond the expected. For example, the Official First Day Cover, which is cancelled in Sunny Corner N.B., is a departure from the usual close-up of the flowers. Here, we used a pattern that is reminiscent of traditional 1940s wallpaper. This treatment, combined with the black and white line drawings, creates a contemporary tone and feel.”