The hydrangeas are starting to bloom. The first one in the family to show forth is the climbing hydrangea that is eating our garden shed. While these are fine with ample sun and more floriferous with sun, they can also survive and even thrive in a spruce forest, climbing up trees in search of the sun, creating a very tropical look as the flowers fan out like branches 15-20 feet and more up the trees.
Then the macrophylla types follow, of which the popular Endless Summer series is a type. Again, these do well in the sun, especially if they get enough water, but they also are fine in shady spots. And once these start blooming, with blue, pink or tints in between, they go all summer long.
And for those who love giant creamy white puff balls of hydrangeas, the Annabelles, an arborescens type, are spectacular, usually until a summer rain knocks them over. I’ve tried the Invincible Spirit variety and have not had luck, which is too bad as it is a lovely deep pink (and a percentage of the sales of these plants go to breast cancer research).
A hydrangea which I covet, but with which I have not had good luck here is the oakleaf hydrangea (querquifolia). My great-grandmother in North Carolina had a spectacular stand, but we are a bit far north here for them to do well easily. I still keep trying them as I know of a lovely planting that does well in Port Clyde, so I know in the right spot they will flourish.
And then there are the more lacecap varieties, such as Blue Billow, which is a serrata type. Again, at the northern end of its range here. I’m about to try one of these, and I know of two lovely ones in Port Clyde, in sheltered semi-shaded locations.
One of my current favorites is Quick Fire, a paniculata type of hydrangea, that blooms early. Its creamy large and loose blooms quickly turn a deep rosy-pink. And its stems tend to have a reddish cast.
Ending the hydrangea season is the rest of the paniculata sorts, which includes the lovely old tree-form hydrangeas we notice in this area at the end of the season. The standard Pee Gee, the Tardiva, and Pink Diamond belong to this family. As does the Limelight hydrangea.
— Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)