I dream of Hydrangeas….

It’s almost Autumn, and up and down my street there is a sea of white blooms. All around me Hydrangea trees and shrubs of all shapes and sizes are showing off their flowers. Last year I planted 5 Hydrangeas of different sorts with limited success. One has not survived at all due to damage from our goldendoodle, another is threatened by him and struggling.

Pee Gee

My plant tag tells me that PeeGee (Hydrangea Paniculata Grandiflora) is a vigorous shrub with giant blooms, “first white with shades of pink, then turning bronzy in the fall”. It warns me as well not to plant the stems too deeply. I think that this is one of my issues with Endless Summer – further down the page.

PeeGee is listed as hardy to Zone 3, with a height of 6ft, spread of 8ft.

This PeeGee Hydrangea, above is in critical condition. It is planted against a wobbly fence which has a cliff like drop off behind. I do believe this shrub has just been visited too often by Max the Goldendoodle. New soil has been added to keep the erosion from happening with every rain. I will continue to water, add topsoil, I have added a layer of garden waste – vines, leaves, etc. to keep Max a little further away from the main plant. It may be too late for this one though.

I am planting a row of on-sale shrubs along this fenceline – in full shade from a Norway Maple. This area was at one time a rotten wooden deck between our basement door and a “cliff” of about 8 feet in depth with a hedge of what may be privet on the other side of the fence. As the “cliff” of the retaining wall is looking not too stable to me – I don’t believe replacing the fence with a privacy fence here is an option. The post holes may cause the retaining wall to crumble. So I hope to plant shrubs which will root and hold the soil, but survive the shade. I have also planted Daphne and Lilacs, further down the row.

The rest of this area, we applied new mulch/topsoil and grass seed. With water last year, it survived as an almost weedfree lawn. With the old deck being there for 30 or so years, no weeds had rooted underneath!

Another Hydrangea, planted a few feet down the row is similar. It is defoliated at the bottom, but producing shoots at the top, faring just a little bit better, and even a little bloom now that it’s September.

Limelight

This defoliated but surviving shrub is Limelight. My plant tag states – “Limelight Hydrangeas’s jade -green summer flowers transform into pink and burgundy in fall. This reliable cold hardy plant has strong stems and makes a great cut flower”. It is described as hardy zone 3-8 to -40degreesF (I’ve been there in my old garden, but not in this new location – just a touch milder) It is also 6-8′ in height and 6-8′ in spread. It is labeled as deer resistant – but not goldendoodle resistant. I think this one may survive, as it still has some foliage at the top, and I have also applied a layer of protective garden vines and leaves to keep Max a little bit farther away.

Another Hydrangea below, has only grown an inch from the ground. This one, Endless Summer was purchased last October on deep sale.

Endless Summer

I planted Endless Summer in a full shade spot among some Hostas – purchased at the same time in a little square garden area as part of my newly completed paver patio. Endless Summer (Hydrangea macrophylla Bailmer) is described as zone 4-9, hardy to -30degrees. This one will bloom pink in alkaline soil, blue in acidic soil. I’d just like it to grow. The mature plant should be 3-5′ in height and 3-5′ in width. This one likes part shade, but will tolerate full sun if grown in consistently moist soil.

When I purchase this plant in the fall, it had been cut right back to the ground, with just a few inches of woody stem remaining. My plant label tells me not to prune in the fall – so that’s one of the problems. I have also planted this too deeply, as I planted everything very late in the fall and there was frost already – so I overapplied topsoil and mulch. – The instructions tell me to keep soil and mulch away from the plant stem. I should have read that in October! I do have a few bits of leaves sprouting though – one on new stems, and one on old wood. I will pull the soil away a little bit and keep hoping for next year.

Finally, one Hydrangea has survived but at only 18 inches tall, it is hiding behind some happily blooming Black Eyed Susans. This one is Invincibelle Limetta – Smooth Hydrangea.

Invincible Limetta

Invincible Limetta is described as a reblooming shrub, which likes Sun. It has a zone or 3-9 and is described as 2.5′ to 3′ height and width. The plant label tells me that “Invincibelle Limetta is a dwarf Annabelle type with charming green flowers and sturdy stems.” – It’s described as a reliable low-maintenance beauty. I’d agree with that – I have forgotten this one.

This one is the perfect Hydrangea of my dreams, with it’s round white balls of flowers and dark green leaves. It has probably survived because it is sheltered from the dog and the heat of this summer. Unfortunately it’s just in the wrong spot as it’s only visible from the porch directly above. At 2.5 feet in height, it’s lost behind the 6′ happy Black Eyed Susans. That’s OK for now. With such little Hydrangea success this year, I think I will leave it for now, and move it another year when I feel more confident.

I love to see Hydrangeas as an accent at the corner of a house, or at the end of a long country drive.

Tall Hydrangea, pruned as trees are lovely when peaking over a suburban fence on a busy street.

My favourite view of Hydrangea is spilling over and around a white picket fence next to an old house.

Hydrangeas are also wonderful in industrial plantings when planted in large sweeping masses of white, or in a small planting below an old front porch.

My favourite are white, but pink Hydrangea from my local park are lovely.

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