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Faial, nicknamed “Blue Island,” is one of nine islands that make up the Azores, a territory of Portugal. And every summer, the island explodes with hydrangeas that are an especially stunning shade of blue.

The small island is one of fairly recent volcanic activity: The last eruption happened from 1957-58 and added about 1.5 miles of land to the coast. The eruption, which displaced thousands of residents, created an extremely fertile soil.

New additions of water, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and hydrogen chloride from the eruption made the land extremely fertile and acidic — the perfect breeding ground for the hydrangea.

Highly acidic soil allows hydrangeas to grow highly pigmented leaves. They also come back stronger every year and in more places. For Faial, that means the flower grows on the roadside, in fields, and along the hills. Pretty much every place where a hydrangea can grow will become deeply blue every summer.

Peak bloom appears on the islands in late July and early August, so plan your trip accordingly. The Semano do Mar (August 2–9 this year) is a week-long celebration of sailing on the island and tends to add even more festivity to the annual blooms. During this time, locals may add blue accents to their homes, gardens and businesses to make the color even more omnipresent.

You may think you’ve seen blue hydrangeas. But there’s a place in the middle of the Atlantic where the hydrangeas are so vibrant, they are sure to become your favorite flower.
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Iit’s illegal to pick the blooms. They're considered a symbol of regional heritage here.

For other floral displays, visitors can island-hop around the Azores and stop at Terceira, otherwise known as the Lilac Island. Not only are there blue hydrangeas here, but the namesake bloom and other purple wildflowers.