Hydrangeas in all their variations are the highlight of my summer garden. Above, H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’, planted next to Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’.
I am also trying out ‘White Dome’, a subspecies according to Dirr. I have not found it to be very abundant with flowers.
Recently I came across Hydrangea arborescens ‘Ryan Gainey’ on a garden tour. Supposedly, the flowers are smaller and the stems stronger than ‘Annabelle’. Growing 3-5 feet tall by 5 feet wide, the plants I saw in bloom did not flop the way ‘Annabelle’ does.
Also flowering throughout June and July is Hydrangea quercifolia. Native to the Blue Ridge Mountains, I grow only a few of the species in deep shade and have concentrated on the double flowering ‘Snowflake’. I first saw it in ‘Polly’s Pen’ on Martha’s Vineyard years ago on an American Conifer Society tour. It was shown to us by Polly Hill herself. To me it is without compare.
A magnificent double flowering oakleaf hydrangea planted in full shade in the woodland garden next to a red seedling Japanese maple.
Because this hydrangea is a hybrid, it is sterile and the flowers last a very long time though eventually they also turn pink, then beige over winter.
In flower also are two “dwarf” varieties, ‘Pee Wee’ and ‘Little Honey’. They are both planted in a very narrow strip in mostly shade behind a hedge. While descriptions state 3×3 feet, mine are more 4-5 ft. high but narrower.
Towards the end of July more hydrangeas will begin to flower. ‘Annabelle’ will be turning green, ‘Snowflake’ will be half white and half turning pinkish, but paniculata types will be opening and stay around until late Fall.
Hydrangea quercifolia foliage will begin to turn leaf color as well by August, first slight tinges of oranges and yellows, then becoming scarlet in more sun and finally blood red before turning brownish before leaf drop. Hydrangea arborescens foliage changes to yellows during that same period before dropping while the old flower heads change to beige and stay on most of the winter.