• Don’t be jealous. Especially if you love hydrangeas…and I know you do. After all, hydrangeas are the most-searched plant on Google. I just returned from a delightful couple of days at Bailey Nurseries, a fifth-generation, family-owned business headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota. Bailey Nurseries is one of the country’s largest wholesale nurseries and continues to develop and introduce revolutionary shrub, tree, and rose varieties. If you don’t know the name, you most certainly know their plants: Love & Peace rose, Tiger Eyes sumac, and Endless Summer hydrangea, to name a few.

    Besides exploring their display gardens, greenhouses, and growing fields, I also got to spend time with Terri (Bailey) McEnaney and her son Ryan. Terri is the President of Bailey Nurseries and Ryan handles communications and public relations. That’s the three of us in the Display Gardens at Bailey Nurseries.

    Perhaps the highlight of my visit was the opportunity to spend time with the world-renowned plant breeder, Dr. Michael A. Dirr. When it comes to hydrangeas, Dr. Dirr is a rock star. When it comes to shrubs, Dr. Dirr literally wrote the book, His Manual of Woody Landscape Plants is one of the most widely used reference books in horticulture. It has sold more than 500,000 copies. In September 1998, Dr. Dirr was visiting Bailey Nurseries when he spotted a unique hydrangea, a variety he would later learn could flower on both old and new growth—the first hydrangea with this ability. On the flight back home, he scribbled the name Endless Summer in his notes. Bailey Nurseries patented the plant and trademarked that name. Since its introduction in 2004, more than 12 million Endless Summer have been sold. Dr. Dirr has gone on to introduce three more hydrangeas to the Endless Summer collection (Blushing Bride, Twist-n-Shout, and the newest addition, Bloomstruck). That’s the two of us in a field of Bloomstruck hydrangeas. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

    by James A. Baggett