1995 32¢ Hydrangea
Fall Garden Flowers
Issue Date: September 16, 1995
City: Encinitas, CA
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Lithographed and engraved
Perforations: 10.9 vertical
The flowering shrubs of the hydrangea have beautified many homes with large, showy, snowball-like flowers. These airy snowballs, really clusters of hundreds of tiny flowers, have been popular so long they’re regarded as old-fashioned flowers. Some varieties reach heights of 30 feet while other varieties are superb for landscaping. Hydrangea are native to North and South America, China, and Japan; thus they arrived in Europe from both directions.
One particular variety, the hydrangea hortensis, has an intriguing story. By 1768, several Europeans had already circled the globe – but no Frenchman had. Louis XV ordered Louis de Bougainville to do so and to search for interesting plants enroute. The elderly botanist Commerson and his young assistant Baret accompanied Bougainville.
After a kidnapping attempt by a Tahitian chieftain, Commerson learned Baret was a woman named Hortense. He was so embarrassed, he never returned home. Hortense eventually returned to France with pink hydrangea from Japan. The shrubs, belonging to the French crown, were duly handed over to Empress Josephine. Planted in iron-enriched soil, they produced the blue flowers later named after Hortense.