In praise of the humble hydrangea and the propagatable pineapple

Madonna doesn’t like hydrangeas, I mean she really doesn’t like them. We are all entitled to our opinion. I wonder, however,  if perhaps it’s simply a question of negative association. I came around quite late to appreciating the charm of the hydrangea, mainly because my early memories of them in Dublin were as the plant everyone tossed in their front garden when they couldn’t be bothered doing anything else. Images of underloved mopheaded giants, with their pink and blue heads barely discernible underneath thick layers of big city grime were what sprang to mind when the hydrangea was mentioned. That was, until I made a trip to the Hamptons earlier this year and saw hydrangeas in a very different context, gaily festooning the quintessential white picket fence, alongside showy white and delicate pink roses, evoking images of a quaint English cottage garden which even a pop star could fall in love with.

In other news, I found the most delicious organic pineapple at a local market the other day which had a label on it allowing me to trace its origin back to an organic pineapple plantation in Costa Rica: Finca Corsicana, the brainchild of the people behind Collins Street Bakery in Texas. The pineapple was much greener than the non-organic ones on display, but the sweetest pineapple I’ve tasted to date, so delicious I had no choice but to plant it. Pineapples are surprisingly easy to propagate; they can grow and produce fruit even if you grow them indoors. All you have to do is twist the top off, remove any remnants of fruit still attached to the crown and then start removing the bottom leaves. If you’re lucky, you’ll start seeing root buds and sometimes more established roots hiding under the leaves.

Once you’ve removed about 1″ of leaves, set the crown aside for a few days to let the surface callous over (helps prevent root rot) and then pop your pineapple plant in soil. Lots of sunshine, VERY little water and in two years’ time you could be harvesting your very own homegrown pineapple. The variety I have is Ananas Comosus Dinar or MD-2 hybrid. Even if you don’t want to grow it, you definitely won’t regret eating it.

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