HYDRANGEAS fill the garden with late summer colour yet are
very easy to grow and propagate.
Characterised by large mophead and lace cap flowers, in
pink, blue or white, Hydrangeas add colour to moist, shaded
borders, and containers too. Originally from the Pacific rim
- east Asia and America - most Hydrangeas grow to over 5
feet tall, although the 'Japanese lady' series are smaller.
'Masja', 'Pia' and 'Domotoi' peak at 3 feet.
Try Hydrangea 'Bluebird', a stunning blue flower with great
` staying power and red leaves in autumn, or the velvet
leafed Hydrangea aspera, a large shrub at 10 feet with pink
and white flowers.
More unusual are 'quercifolia'; the oak leaf Hydrangea, with
white lace cap flowers, and H. involucrata 'hortensis' with
distinct clusters of pink blooms.
To turn your pink flowers blue, add a handful of rusty nails
to the soil; the iron will work wonders! Alternatively if
you fancy a pink flower, just dig in a little garden lime in
late spring. To keep Hydrangeas in check, prune away old
wood by one third in early spring, say in late February or
early March, but beware not to cut back too hard -
Hydrangeas flower on last year's growth. Most prefer a humus
rich soil, so it's a good idea to dig in well rotted
To tackle a shady wall and bring interest all year round,
try the climbing Hydrangea 'petiolaris'. This is a real
beauty, guaranteed to go places. Summer lace type flowers,
autumn yellow foliage, and on mature specimens beautiful
peeling bark. 'Petiolaris' looks great in spring as the buds
swell on their rustic framework. Plant it in a dark corner
and you'll never look back.
Evergreen types are harder to find at the Garden Centre, as
they require a little more care. Hydrangea 'seemanii' has
long leathery leaves year round with attractive peeling bark
and white summer flowers. Requiring a sheltered spot, it can
grow to 30 feet tall! As part of your garden design it's
best to place Hydrangeas towards the rear of your garden,
ideally planted in colour blocks, so as to maximise visual
impact. In winter you are unlikely to want to see them,
while in summer when you do, they draw the eye, inviting a
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