Olympia Garden Designer Explains A Garden Favorite – Hydrangeas

HydrangeaSubmitted by Mary Jo Burza

Grown across the country, hydrangeas have claimed a position of prominence in every style of American garden. Hydrangeas are one of the easiest ornamentals to grow – thriving in a variety of climates and conditions. This characteristic no doubt contributes to their popularity. More than 50 varieties of cultivated hydrangeas are now available. These cultivars provide a wealth of diversity, and range in height from 3 feet to 30 feet, and in form, from climbing vines to dense bushy shrubs to small trees.

Perhaps the most well-known hydrangea is Hydrangea macrophylla, the common name is bigleaf garden hydrangea. Gardeners admire the dependable and large pink or blue flowers. Bigleaf hydrangea has a round dense habit and grows five to six feet tall. The deep green leaves are large, up to eight inches in length, and the flowers grow even bigger – up to ten inches. The flowers appear in early summer and bloom for several weeks – another big reason this plant is so popular.

Bigleaf garden hydrangeas have two very different flower forms. The mopheads have a distinct round flower head, in contrast, the lacecaps have flat or disc shaped flower head. Although the mopheads are more common, I prefer the lacecaps. Their flowers heads are showy, yet delicate and sublime, while the mophead flowers seem to yell “look at me, look at me, ” like a child in need of attention.

Hydrangea are loved in the northwest for their easy care and showy, reliable summer blooms.Though undemanding and hardy the bigleaf hydrangeas do benefit from annual care. In spring, trim back all dead twigs and branches. Any other pruning – to contain the size for example – needs to happen soon after the flowers fade in summer. This is because both lacecap and mophead hydrangeas bloom on the previous year’s wood

The bigleaf garden hydrangea is a garden chamaeleon because the flower color changes depending on the pH of the soil. Blue-purple flowers indicate an acidic soil while pink flowers indicate an alkaline soil. Here in the South Sound our soils are naturally acidic, so most of the flower colors are blue-purple. But, add lime around the base of your bigleaf garden hydrangea and you may find it blooms a soft pretty pink.

Oakleaf hydrangeas are the least demanding of this easy-care plant family. Oakleaf hydrangeas are tolerant of drier soils and a more open exposure than other species. The popularity of oakleaf hydrangeas has increased dramatically in recent years. This species brightens the garden with white flowers in July. Yet what I appreciate and admire the most are the large oak-like leaves that turn maroon in the fall. The large leaves with their unusual shape add a tropical flavor to the garden, and the exfoliating winter bark adds another season of interest. Oakleaf hydrangeas are also best pruned in late summer after the plant blooms.

Source: www.thurstontalk.com

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Kitchen (Michel Design Works, Co)
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