Hondoji Ajisai 2007

As you may have noticed in the new gallery up here, the rainy season has brought one good thing with it- the hydrangeas (in Japanese, ‘ajisai’). Hondoji Temple, a place my regulars here will know as one of my favourite haunts, is once again transformed by them and people from miles around come to see them. After taking the pictures I decided to do a bit of online research about them. One interesting thing I learned is that, at least in the case of the popular ‘mophead hydrangeas’ you see so much of, their colour is dependant on the acidity of the soil. The more alkaline the soil, the more pink they get, whereas in Hondoji, it is unusually acidic, resulting in so many blue flowers. Then of course, you get the variations- red, purple and at times white, which I suppose could be from neutral soil, at a guess. This all explains why people go around here saying how unusual the colours of the ajisai are- as really, there are as many colours as variations in the soil can produce.

There are also the lacecap variety, that are less obvious and actually look like they aren’t ready yet. Here they are called crowns or rings and are also greatly admired. In some ways I like them more, as when you get closer to them there is the contrast between the center and the flowers surrounding it, they have a kind of subtle effect this way, with a certain delicacy. Whilst the mophead variety look great from a distance, these make great subjects for macros. They truly give the sense of worlds within worlds.

Apart from putting everyone in a good mood and ‘beautifying’ the temple, some ajisai also have a really nice scent. So if you have a chance, appreciate them while you can (or whatever spring flowers are out in your locality). This is what it’s all about, folks!

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