Hydrangeas, a sure sign of summer, along with the progression of blooms, seasonal foods like sweet corn and peaches. Summer feels abundant, lush and effortless. April and May are usually a blur to most of us working in the landscape industry, even more so these last two years. All the more reason to experience our own gardens every day. Trying to remind myself to savor moments these days. In celebration of summer, here are four of my favorite hydrangeas:
Hydrangea arborescens, smooth or wild hydrangea, is our native hydrangea and these are very special to me. I now have a whole row at the back of my property, all started from a piece my Dad gave me years ago from my childhood home in NJ. My lovely neighbor enjoys seeing the blooms every summer! And when I am tending them, my Dad is always with me in spirit! Best grown in part shade and moist soil with a suckering habit. They bloom on new wood so cutting back hard in the spring is perfectly fine if needed. Blooms start out green, change to white, fading to buff. Native to rich woods, rocky slopes and stream banks and larval host to the Hydrangea Sphinx Moth (Darapsa versicolor) - source: wildflower.org
Hydrangea quercifolia, oakleaf hydrangea, native in MD and south, however, it grows just fine here in full sun (moist soil) or part shade. The straight species can grow to about 8-10' high and wide with a suckering habit. The show keeps on coming in autumn with burgundy foliage and peeling bark in the winter. A bold and wonderful coarse textured plant! I have planted mine with Callicarpa and the autumn combination makes me happy every year! Cultivars available in various sizes.
Hydrangea petiolaris or Climbing Hydrangea. I saw this years ago in Maine @snugharborfarm and have been obsessed with her ever since. Slow to establish and growing 6' wide by 30' plus, she needs a sturdy structure or brick wall where she can cling and prosper. Blooms in May-June, yellow autumn foliage and peeling winter bark. Years ago, we recycled our old deck wood to build our pergola and she is a major player throughout the season, even beautiful in winter with snow and ice (see my website portfolio for more photos).
Hydrangea macrophylla (Bigleaf Hydrangea) for all you blue and pink hydrangea lovers. When I worked @stauffersofkisselhill, years ago, I remember when the CityLine Series from @provenwinners were first introduced. Working in a nursery is extremely dangerous for us plant lovers. Of course I had to buy a few (5) of the Venice Hydrangeas. The color is stunning turning a rich red in autumn. I have had various shades of pink and purple over the years. These have been reliable performers regardless of winter weather here in Central PA. Unlike the older varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla, the Cityline series like the Endless Summer series bloom on new growth which has greatly improved their performance here.
It's definitely feeling like summer here is Central Pennsylvania! I hope you can savor and enjoy special moments with loved ones in your own garden, local park or playground!