The Flower Of Honor
When we think about honoring someone special, we look back on all of their accomplishments, big and small; how the room lit up when that person entered, their loving kindness, how bright and eager they were to learn, and their insatiable thirst to experience more about this amazing world through books and travel.
Elizabeth Ashley had all of these attributes and so many more. Her sweet spirit and warm smile brought joy to all with whom she came in contact. Elizabeth was tragically ripped away from the world she so embraced by a speeding, texting, drunk driver who crossed the center line, killing her on her way to her first week of college.
As a parent, you are never prepared for such a tragedy. Sitting on the floor of our bedroom, immersed in tears and grief, trying desperately to put the world back on its axis—somehow, we knew we had to do something to move Elizabeth’s love and life forward. For us, that was a formation of a trust. Within days of her tragic death we formed the Elizabeth Ashley Hoke Trust. Being in the nursery business, we knew we needed to fund its future by giving it roots with a plant. We reached out to a friend of ours, and she secured a hydrangea from a world-class hydrangea breeder in Holland.
Kolster BV is a family-owned business that started breeding shrubs for cut-flower use in the early ‘90s, which was about the same time mixed bouquets became popular all over the world. It wasn’t long before hydrangeas became its main focus. Through its extensive breeding program, Kolster produced hydrangeas with strong stems and hard, long-lasting flowers, lending themselves to the cut-flower trade in more than 75 countries worldwide.
They now have two full-time breeders on staff who have helped expand their breeding lines into gift and garden. It takes approximately three years for seedling crosses to mature enough for selections to be made. Plants are trialed in various ways to prove their worth. Our Hydrangea ‘Elizabeth Ashley’ was selected in 2017 by Kolster as “best in breeding” from a 2014 cross. We imported the plant, and took it through quarantine and observation for an additional 18 months. After trialing it and seeing it grow up, we knew he had given us one of his best. Strong stems, amazing flowers, incredible compact form and one that we would be forever grateful to carry our daughter’s name.
We look forward to growing and sharing this amazing hydrangea with the world, and we believe you will also. This plant is one that can be shared with others through gifting—when doing so, please share the story of our sweet Elizabeth. We know you will look at it often and appreciate the time, love, and story behind Hydrangea ‘Elizabeth Ashley’. She will be honored and remembered with every one of these lovely hydrangeas you plant in your garden or enjoy in your home. We thank you for “Growing A Garden with Meaning”.
Peace be with you,
A portion of each sale of the Elizabeth Ashley Hydrangea benefits the Elizabeth Ashley Hoke Memorial Trust.
About Hydrangea ‘Elizabeth Ashley’ PPAF
Cheerful, billowy flowers in taffy pink or soft blue (depending on the soil pH) form round flowerheads so dense, there’s hardly room for leaves. A compact grower with strong stems and hard flowers, this beautiful hydrangea makes a perfect gift plant that transitions easily to the garden.
Flowers show their first hint of color in May or June and continue blooming through summer with fresh, new flowers that replace the older ones. This is a Hydrangea that never stops giving. As flowers mature, they take on deeper, vintage hues of velvety-rose or violet-blue, both with green eyes. Much like its namesake, ‘Elizabeth Ashley’ will bring joy to any outdoor setting.
Growing Tips & Info
- Size: 3’ x 3’
- USDA Zones: 5-9
- Sun/Shade: Part sun-prefers afternoon shade
- Soil: Average garden soil
- Moisture: Moist, well-drained
- Diseases and Pests: None known
- Landscape Use: Garden paths, urban gardens, container plantings
- Market appeal/Uniqueness: One of the best gift-to-garden Hydrangeas ever bred, ‘Elizabeth Ashley’ has it all: exquisite reblooming flowers, strong stems and a compact habit
- Propagation Methods: Vegetative softwood cuttings
- Cut Flower: Yes
- Bloom Time: May/June through summer
- Pruning: Can be pruned close to the soil line before Spring, or in the fall when flowering has ceased. Apply 3-6” of organic mulch after pruning.