Hydrangeas; with “colours as washed-out as a pinafore”

Their mopheads drooping and dipping as they grow heavy with rain, I gather these pastel shades of Hydrangeas and bring them indoors. As if the colour has washed from one petal to another, I lose myself in their water-colour tones and set about preserving them, by letting them dry naturally in an inch or so of water, so that their gentle beauty and grace can go on and on…..



A spoiled green paint left over in a jar

has coloured these dull leaves, so dried and wan

under the flowers that no longer own

a blue, but still reflect it from afar.


As if through tears, smudged and approximate,

faint as the blue of letters from the past

as if, perhaps, it would be better lost

decaying into yellows, greys and violet;


colours as washed-out as a pinafore

outworn, outgrown, discarded utterly,

showing how short the lives of children are.


But of a sudden blue seems born again

within one cluster: then, surprised, you see

a tender blue rejoice beside the green.


Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Stephen Cohn.

9 thoughts on “Hydrangeas; with “colours as washed-out as a pinafore”

    • Thank you so much Honey. I am so glad you like the picture.
      Hydrangeas are so easy to grow in England because they like lots of water and usually rain is never in short supply here. I wonder if the problem you might have had is in getting them established? I am sure if you watered them very regularly to begin with then they would be very happy with you.

  1. This is a beautiful post–the whole package! The photo is stunning and the poem–well, perfect! Hydrangeas seem like such a romantic flower to me–I love that they react to the makeup of the soil and turn different colors accordingly. I love that they can be dried so easily and look great. I love that there are so many different cultivars and that they’re happy in shade, and . . . and . . . and everything about them!

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