Summer Thoughts on Hydrangeas

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Oh, my aching muscles...


By Fran Sharp

Summer images in our minds…they seem so strong, so real…as if we were really there. When I think of summer, I think of warm breezes, lazy days, and lots of time to linger in the fully blooming garden. Ok, it’s all unrealistic, right? We rarely have “warm” breezes out here in the Northwest (I’m from Ohio where it is really warm) and who gets to be lazy and linger these days. Oh well…the images are wonderful and keep us going.

Back to lingering…When I imagine the summer garden, it’s not in great detail; it is mostly a mass of color and fragrance. But what does stand out in my mind in the summer garden are the ever-popular Hydrangeas. What a fabulous garden plant! Long blooming flowers in quite the range of colors, sizes and shapes. Containers, borders or focal points; Hydrangeas are the ultimate summer plant.

If you want the glory of the Hydrangea but don’t have room for one of the big H. macrophylla, consider one of the more compact varieties such as ‘Pia.’ This diminutive plant grows to only 24-30" but is covered with delicate “hortensia” type blooms. ‘Pia’ works great in containers on the patio too.

There are many varieties to choose from in the Hydrangea genus. Many of you are familiar with the “old” favorites like ‘Nikko Blue’ and ‘Glowing Embers.’ A newer blue-flowered form is ‘Blue Billow.’ Steel-blue lacecaps cover this plant in horizontal layers as it grows wider than high. H. ‘Variegata’ is another neat blue lacecap but with striking white variegation on its blue-green leaves. I have one by my door and this year it will be big enough to cut some of the numerous blooms off for inside and still keep plenty of beauty for the garden. 

Northwest Garden News archive story from June 2001

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