Today we’re going back to June with Carla Zambelli Mudry, looking at some photos of hydrangea season in her garden in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
I have a deep love for hydrangeas. I rediscovered them as an adult while visiting the Hamptons in New York. They are an integral part of the summer landscape there and are very hardy and indestructible plants. I love the variety of hydrangeas available. Among my favorites are the ones with airy fairy lace cap flowers.
I think every garden should have hydrangeas, just like I think every garden should have roses.
This lace cap hydrangea is in full bloom. (Hydrangea. Macrophylla or H. Serta, zones 5–9). “Lacecap” is a term used to describe hydrangeas that have a ring of large, showy, sterile flowers around the outside of the bloom, and a cluster of smaller, fertile flowers in the middle. . This is the common form for these plants in the wild, with large, sterile flowers serving to draw pollinators into the fertile flowers in the middle.
This beautiful lace cape hydrangea is a rich shade of purple. Hydrangea flower color is a combination of soil and individual variety genetics. The hydrangea plant needs aluminum to produce its blue color. Aluminum is highly available in acidic soils and is readily taken up by the plant to produce the rich blue color. In more alkaline soils, aluminum is chemically bound to the soil and plants cannot absorb it, so the flowers remain pink.
Mophead varieties produce mostly large sterile flowers rather than just an outer ring as in Lacecap varieties. This means they may produce any seeds, but they really make an over-the-top display in the garden.
Think you don’t have room for a hydrangea? Many new varieties are quite compact and will thrive in containers. If you live in a cold climate, give them a little extra protection from the winter cold by moving them into a shed or garage.
While the classic mophead and lace cap hydrangeas are native to Asia, smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, zones 3–9) of the southeastern United States. Much more cold hardy than their Asian relatives, they are easy to grow in almost any garden and produce large heads of white flowers.
Another great genus of hydrangea native to the southeastern United States is oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifoliaZones 5–9), with large, conical flower heads and beautifully plump foliage.
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