Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Lush Life in June

It's a beautiful time for our native hydrangeas.  Many folks are familiar with the 'Annabelle' hydrangea, a variety of Hydrangea arborescens. Big and bold flowers have such a lush, romantic look in the summer garden, especially when planted in a mass.

This is a dwarf version, called 'Ryan Gainey' after the Atlanta plantsman, and the flowers are quite a bit smaller than Annabelle. 

 Another form of H. arborescens var. radiata is a hard-to-find variety in this part of Virginia. I was able to get one in North Carolina a few years ago and was encouraged to plant it in the shade. Though only a few years old in this usually dry east side of the west mountain of the Shenandoah Valley, this wet spring has encouraged a beautiful set of blooms. Last night, a fat bumblebee was doing the macarena on the center, scampering madly all over the fuzzy flowers. The big outside petals are sterile.

The oak leaf hydrangea - Hydrangea quercifolia - is the most architecturally interesting, growing broadly and tall rather than in a big fat clump. There are many varieties of this beautiful native in the marketplace, but for me Snowflake is the most exquisite. Exfoliating bark makes this interesting even in winter.
They are all white blooming, a lovely respite for your part-shade garden.

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