Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Altona’
This is a very popular hydrangea with florists because, in the autumn, the flowers turn to green and red and are lovely for drying. Not only does it give pretty summer bouquets, but it can also provide beauty in the winter vase. Altona is a compact plant which on alkaline soils will bloom pink and on acid soils, will be bluish purple.
Each flower of Altona normally has FOUR serrated sepals On my plant, one branch (out of perhaps 35 or 40) has the anomaly of flowers with FIVE sepals---a “sport.” Sports are one of the ways that watchful plant breeders can find and introduce new versions of a plant. Actually, I didn’t notice this aberration until I was looking closely at the photograph. I took pictures of several clumps of flowers, but the couple of heads on this branch had much bigger flowers than the rest of the plant (which attracted me to take pictures of it). As I counted sepals in the various photographs, I realized this branch was the oddball.
This hydrangea (without the sport), bred by H. Schadendorff in 1931 in Germany, was given the Award of Merit by the Royal Horticulture Society.