Monday, August 12, 2013

Patience for a Princess

True Confession

My heart was captured by a gallon potted plant at my favorite nursery. 

Actually it wasn't really the pot I fell in love with, 
rather it was the image on the plant tag 
that filled my heart with desire. 

Buy me! Buy me!
At first glance, I thought this lovely bloom far too delicate 
to tolerate our extreme heat in Summer and freezing temps of Winter.

But further inspection of the back side of the tag
left no doubt that this was meant to be...
Hardiness: Zone 4-8

Hydrangea paniculata Great Star 'Le Vasterival'
from the renown French Garden of
Princess Sturdza.

The flowers open to large creamy-white wavy stars 
that can be 4 inches across
and last until the first hard frost.

I was smitten.
 The purchase was sealed. 

I found the perfect spot in my gardens... sunny... 
with dappled shade in the hot afternoon.

I  planted,

I fertilized,

I watered.

And I waited patiently for the Princess to bloom.

That was way back in 2011.

The plant grew...
yet no blooms.

2012... the plant grew, yet no blooms.

2013... the plant grew, and still no blooms. 

I began to seriously doubt our relationship. 


But then... (don't you just love "but thens"?)

on July 15, 2013 at precisely 6:52 AM
(and I know this because of the meta data on my image)

I discovered this...

7/19/2013 6:57AM

A delicate little bud.
Oh my heart!

I should never have doubted you.

7/19/2013 6:57 AM

I awaited anxiously for the the stars to appear...

and here they come!

They open very tiny
but grow a little larger each passing day.

7/30/2013 6:58 AM
Isn't this just dreamy?

Images captured in the early evening 
tend to take on a heavenly hue.

8/5/2013 7:30 AM
This one captured in the bright light of morning...
still beautiful.

8/12/2013 8:59:01 AM
This morning, there are new blooms awakening...

8/12/2013 7:23:59 AM

and I am most definitely in LOVE.


"But who in the world is Princess Sturdza?" 

This fabulous bloom is from her gardens
and my curious mind wanted to know.

My research reveals a fascinating story...
Princess Greta Sturdza
Died 30 November 2009
at the age of  94

"Born Grete Kvaal on 30 April 1915 in Oslo, Norway, she grew up without a garden but with a keen interest in natural history, especially birds, encouraged by walks in the country with her father. She studied English at Oxford, where she met Prince Georges Sturdza of Moldavia, her future husband. They married in 1936, returning to Moldavia, now a region of Romania, to live."

During the Second World War she helped her mother-in-law care for orphans and was much involved with La Croix Rouge (The Red Cross). When the communists came to power after the war’s end she and her family fled to Norway and then to France where, in 1955, they bought Le Vasterival." 

"Princess Greta Sturdza was a gardener of international repute. A passionate, hands-on gardener, she was once described as a woman of demonic energy regularly rising at 6am to work all day in her gardens which, from the original 7.5 acres expanded to the present 30 acres. Her gardens, Le Vasterival at Varangeville-sur-Mer in Normandy, became a magnet for gardeners seeking to learn from her skills and gardening know-how."

Don't you just love her story?
She inspires me.
Someone should make a movie of her life!

Follow this link to read more about Princess Sturdza's life and gardens:
The Vasterival

All content created by Carolyn Bush | Copyright © 2010 - 2013 
All Rights Reserved | This Grandmother's Garden
Highland, Utah, USA


  1. Your patience was beautifully rewarded! What a sweet plant/gardener love story! Princess Sturdza story is wonderful! Thanks for sharing it and helping her legacy live on!

    1. Yes it was... if I hadn't been so busy preparing for a garden reception this Spring, it might not have lived to fulfill the measure of its creation. So glad I was busy.

  2. I read about these. Very nice that you have one blooming. They are very pretty and unique. The story of Princess Sturdza is interesting.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    1. I was really captivated by her story... really want to go to Les Vasterival.

  3. Great pictures, you clearly love the plant as I do my own in York UK where it is perfectly hardy and reliable. I think you can look forward to flowers every year now, Carolyn.
    Loved the princess story, she looked to be a fine lady and 94! That's a testament to hard work in the garden and lots of sunshine

    1. You are so right...hard work and sunshine... and I'll add a bit of rain occasionally. Nice to know someone else has had success with this little beauty... I was beginning to wonder.

  4. The Princess had a wonderful and fulfilled life. I enjoyed hearing about her. I am sure the Princess is smiling down on your plant.

  5. Je découvre cet hydrangé qui est très beau. C'était une femme très travaillante. À bientôt.

    1. Translation: "I find this hydrangea is beautiful. It was a hard-working woman. See you soon."

      Thank you for visiting!

  6. Oh, what beautiful blooms! Your photos are wonderful. I'm so glad you were patient and waited for the plant to decide to finally bloom. (We gardeners always have to be so very patient!) Thanks for the information on the Princess. Very interesting.

    1. We do have to be patient, don't we. I have never considered patience to be one of my virtues... maybe I have gained an ounce or two.

  7. Lovely plant, lovely lady! How nice to know the story behind the name. That is a special paniculata. Much as I love mopheads, the paniculatas might be more my favorite by now.

    1. I've always loved paniculata... and never really cared for the mop heads. I first learned about paniculata form while living in Oregon. I thought they were so enchanting... almost whimsical. When we moved back to Utah I searched the web for paniculatas that would survive our extreme heat and cold. I was delighted to find several. Funny I only see mopheads blooming here... except for in my gardens where Paniculata varieties rule.

  8. I love the hydrangeas very much, they are my weakness. This one Great Star I haven't seen here, it has unusual flowers and shape. Beautiful purchase, Carolyn! I loved the story you told, very dramatic, she was strong woman.

    1. Oh I knew there was a reason I enjoy you so much... hydrangeas are my weakness as well. I love knowing the story behind my plants... often they are my own story... but occasionally I discover a jewel to share. So glad you enjoyed it.

  9. I love a happy ending...what a great story. Now how does that baby do in the heat? If it's tolerant, then it's going in my garden.


    1. They do very well with sufficient water. Ours are on a drip system my Honeyman installed for me. They get water every other day. I've only noticed heat stress on one (we have more than a dozen) and must remember to put a larger drip head on it. Our temps have been in the high nineties most of the Summer with some triple digit days. I should mention I've planted most of them in areas where they get plenty of sunshine until mid afternoon where they are shaded... some with dappled shade. Give it a try... hope you don't have to wait so long for the blooms.

  10. Carolyn, how good is has been to hear from you! I am awed by this story, and am definitely going to read more about this amazing woman. How pretty the hydrangea is and what a good lesson in patience to wait for the magic to happen. I have a few hydrangeas I'm wondering about too, but maybe with time there will be a reward? This plant looks beautiful, well worth the wait.

    And I promise, booyah explanations are forthcoming.

    1. Nice to see your smiling face here Karen. And I'm trying to be patient about the booyah. :)

  11. Hello Carolyn girl !
    What an amazing woman and yes! a movie should be made of her life (far better than most movies out there!) .. and yes, patience .... BIG sigh! I am waiting for a few hydrangea to flower as well .. lots of healthy foliage but no sign of flower buds yet, while my others bloom their collective heads off? haha
    Very sweet post with a happy ending: )


  12. I too loved the Princess Story! There is nothing I would rather do most days than rise and work in the garden until dark!! And many a day I have! :) I just LOVE it when a plant surprised you so much, you gasp out loud with surprise! Always worth the wait!
    I dont know why, but this makes me think of a tiny Lobelia plant, that sprouted every year out front in a rock path beside my birdbath..I never planted it, never expected it, never watered it..yet year after year ..there it was, a happy camper making me grin from ear to ear!

    1. What a sweet lobelia story... surely a tender mercy for you! BTW, blue lobelias is my favorite bloom. I will never have a garden without them... lots of them.

  13. I adore this story of Grete...what a fabulous plant to honor her.

    1. I so want to see the movie... someone must make a movie.

  14. Oh, now I am in love... I must go on a quest for this hydrangea... how amazingly different and beautiful. The words pale in comparison to those lovely petals as they are opening their eyes to the world for the first time! And that story... girlfriend you are awesome :D
    Hugs from your New Hampshire blogging sister :D
    Beth P

    1. Seriously, Beth... you have become a dear friend. I think we are kindred spirits. Here's hoping you you find your own Great Star Le Vasterival to love.

    2. Aww, that is so sweet! I feel the same way my friend!:D I have found a place online that will ship by Sept. 9th so I will order soon. If this keeps up I am going to have a garden filled with hydrangeas, iris, lilies and roses! :D So many plants so little garden! LOL!
      Hugs and enjoy the upcoming week...


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