Spot the difference

I was going to write a piece this week shouting that now IS the very time we should be talking about climate change, aimed at the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, who left his burning country to holiday in the cleaner air of Hawaii, declaring that now is not the time for knee-jerk reactions to a major drought and extreme fires and neither is it the time to talk about climate change.

But the majority of Australians voted that man and his government in this very year and I decided that maybe I would leave it to those voters to reflect upon their collective decision and respond to their own environmental crisis. Instead I will focus on flowers.

Hydrangea petiolaris, resplendent in full sun, although it has its roots on the cool side of the fence. Most climbers appreciate a cool root run.

Both the common climbing hydrangea, H. petiolaris, and the less common Schizophragma hydrangeoides are in full bloom here and I have never lined them up side by side to compare them. We produced both commercially in our nursery days but concentrated more on the allegedly more refined and desirable schizophragma. What were the differences, I wondered, in visual terms?

Hydrangea petiolaris to the left and the white and pink forms of Schizophragma hydrangeoides. Petiolaris looks creamier because it is an older flower grown in full sun. 

Not a whole lot, was the answer when I lined them up. The pink form of the schizophragma is  indubitably a different colour – rosy pink sepals, not white. H. petiolaris has more fertile flowers (the central tiny blooms on the lace-cap) and somewhat smaller outer petals (ray florets or sepals). It makes it appear a little bit heavier perhaps, than the light dancing of the sepals on the schizophragma. The hydrangea also has larger leaves overall. All of them have a light scent with a slight variation between the two species but nothing of great note.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Roseum’

Botanically, there is a difference. They are distinct species, though from similar parts of the world (woodland Asia, particularly Japan) and liking similar conditions. Schizophragma is nowhere near as common as H. petiolaris and has the reputation of being slow to establish. But I planted that petiolaris many years ago and it took several years to reach its stride, too. Mark reminds me that the reason he went for the schizophragma over petiolaris was because the latter would not set flowers on young plants.

Schizophragma hydrangeoides

Plantspeople and those with refined visual sensibilities will pick the difference. I prefer the lighter, more ethereal look of the schizophragma. But overall, I concluded that Mark’s ‘man on a galloping horse’ analogy applies. A man (or woman, presumably) passing on a galloping horse would not pick the difference. To be honest, most gardeners wouldn’t either. They are both lovely at their peak and well behaved as far as climbers go.

10 thoughts on “Spot the difference

  1. dinahmow

    I think you ARE right in saying that this IS the time to talk, seriously,about the damage we’ve done to our home.
    For the record, I have a strong dislike of Morrison and his Ministers. And I despair of the feeble opposition parties.
    But I do like your featured flowers. :-)

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Two big differences here. We don’t have the Murdoch press and our politics are largely a religion-free zone. No fundamentalist Christian influence. Long may our politics stay gloriously secular and free from Murdoch influence!

  2. Angela

    I often wonder if the popularity of some plants comes down to the terminology, common or refined? Personally I welcome both in my garden as I’ve never been a slave to fashion or desirability and ours is very much a pick ‘n mix acre. And we also hope our varied planting is doing our bit for the planet.

  3. Ann Mackay

    We have the hydrangea here and it does well, even though it can get terribly dry in summer. I’d love to try the schizophragma too – ‘Roseum’ is really pretty.

  4. Tony Murrell

    once again Abbey you have sparked something new for me to enjoy, happy new year to you and Mark and of course your lovely family x

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