Hydrangeas and Elephants

Hydrangea, Newport, RI, 2024

When I was a young girl, my family would spend several weeks in the summer at my Grandmother Grace’s farm in Knoxville, Iowa. I have such pleasant memories of those summers.

Grandma worked a 60-acre farm alone since my grandfather had died before I was born. After we’d arrive, she’d pick fixings for a salad from her garden and make her famous chicken and homemade noodles. After dinner, my brothers and I would run outside and catch lightening bugs in a jar and watch them illuminate over and over again.

On Sundays, we’d go to town after church and visit with one relative or another and that was my first introduction to hydrangeas. My parents and the relatives would linger for hours drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and reminiscing. Soon, I’d be bored and sit on the large covered front porch reading and see abundant blue, pink and purple extravagant blooms on hydrangeas shrubs lining the front of neighbors’ houses up and down the street. That image of these old-fashioned flowers is forever imprinted in my brain.

For years, I tried to grow hydrangeas in my front yard, but the sun and weather in Glendale were not conducive to them so I finally gave up. When I came to Rhode Island this summer, I was amazed by how many blossoming hydrangeas bushes were everywhere. This year due to mild spring weather with no late frost, the bushes are loaded with colorful blooms at literally every third to fourth house block. It’s hydrangea heaven!

Now … on to the elephants. Who thought you could view a herd of 100 life-sized Asian elephants on Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island? “The Great Elephant Migration” is a global fundraising project and public art exhibit to inspire humans to share space with wildlife. Two hundred Indian indigenous artisans crafted these elephants from Lantana camara (one of the world’s most invasive weeds) and they are now featured at the Rough Point Mansion, the ocean-side former residence of Doris Duke; the Breaker’s Mansion; and Salve Regina University.

After the exhibition closes in Newport in early September, the elephant herd will travel to New York City, Miami, Blackfeet Nation, Montana and Los Angeles.


15 thoughts on “Hydrangeas and Elephants

  1. Great essay. What incredible art work re Elephants. One man’s week is another……
    Thanks Susan for your story telling and sharing of interesting finds.

    1. Thank you Millie for always commenting on my postings! The elephants are for sale if you want one in your Carlsbad backyard!

  2. Oh, Susan, how well you find treasures during your journeys!

    Hydrangeas and summer are paired in my mind because they flourished around the cottages we rented at Cape Cod over the years for two weeks every summer. Mansions and upscale hotels planted them in abundance, too, probably at Chatham and along that shore. I share wonderful memories with you.

    The elephants are wonderfully crafted, and from weeds, too! I find them delightful. Art that inspires universal feelings and heightened awareness is the best!

    Thank you for sharing these two types of beauties. And, by the way, who is that young, beautiful woman leaning on that baby elephant?

  3. Beautiful hydrangeas. We just plated a new one.
    Hope is eventually gets as pretty as these.
    Elephants ate cool!!

  4. What lovely memories you’ve shared of those hydrangeas! BTW, when I lived near you, on San Gabriel, I had a beautiful hydrangeas in my front yard. Maybe it was facing in just the right direction?

    As for the elephants, WOW! So interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I am obsessed! I just saw these beautiful elephants can be purchased. Love it and would like to see them in LA. Love you and thank you Susan.

    1. It would be cool to have one in your backyard!

      They’ll be in LA in either 2025 or 2026

  6. The hydrangeas are beautiful. Your grandmother must’ve been an amazing woman. I appreciate you introducing us to The Great Elephant Migration. I look forward to seeing it when it comes to Los Angeles. There is a website where they’re selling the elephants.

    1. Thanks for visiting Toni! Yes, my grandmother was simple, kind, had a lot of horse sense, worked hard & loved my brothers & me so much!

  7. I love hydrangeas. I describe them as a ‘happy plant,’ and they remind me of growing up in Long Beach! I hoped to plant one on our property in beautiful TN, but this is not the best climate. The elephants are amazing. Wish they were headed to Tennessee. Thanks as always, Susan!

    1. Dear Susan,

      This was a fascinating message with the gorgeous hydrangeas, amazing elephant art and your interesting childhood. Thank you for sharing. Andrea

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *