September's here and it's time to pick mophead hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) to dry - the whole trick is in the timing. Picked too soon, the petals shrivel. You want to wait until the flowerheads turn a little leathery right on the bush. By that time, the blossoms will already be changing colors, making them more beautiful even than when they're fresh.
Cut a lengthy stem, and put the hydrangeas in a vase (don't crowd them too much) in an inch or so of water and let it slowly evaporate. This is easier and more effective than hanging them, and you get to enjoy a big bouquet of mopheads while they slowly and accommodatingly preserve themselves. I'll just leave these in this wheat-colored jug through autumn, where they'll only look better as the colors fade and mellow a bit.
While a whole bouquet of just hydrangeas is a beautiful thing, I can never resist picking the fresher, still bright blue blossoms to combine with other garden flowers. The fat heads anchor an arrangement, give it solidity and depth, while the rich, deep,color shows off all the golds, yellows, peaches and apricots of late summer...here a square, green glass vase plays off the autumnal colors of sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), various crocosmia, pelargonium, and Peruvian lilies (Alstromeria). I stuck a few lavender wands and deep purple Clematis roguchi in there to echo the color of the hydrangea.