When I left Rockridge I was only a little sad to be leaving behind my beloved hydrangeas just as the season was getting started in earnest. To my great surprise and delight the southwestern coast of France and the north coast of Spain are virtually covered in them–and in every size, shape, and color imaginable (cone, mophead, lace, blue, purple, magenta, light pink, green). In France they are most commonly called Hortensia. They are prolific and huge–these blooms are bigger than a human head. Unbelievable. I found the Hortensia especially striking in Biarritz, where they cover hillsides and line the boardwalks along the sea.