Say hi to the hy­drangea

From climbers to mop­heads, these fan­tas­tic flow­ers are a source of ab­so­lute de­light

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Your Garden -

HYDRANGEAS are king in my gar­den at the mo­ment! I have sev­eral va­ri­eties and they all do dif­fer­ent jobs for me. They’re easy to grow, make great in­for­mal hedges, won­der­ful long-last­ing cut blooms and are a good choice for coastal ar­eas as well.

Keep them well hy­drated through­out the year and a good feed in spring will en­sure long-last­ing shrubs.

Look­ing espe­cially gor­geous at the mo­ment is Hy­drangea ‘Annabelle’ as the im­ma­ture green flow­ers have de­vel­oped into de­li­cious creamy white large flower heads. I think she per­forms bet­ter in full sun – some­times you see her in the shade strug­gling a bit.

Won­der­fully the flow­ers will per­sist for months and like mop­heads can be left on un­til next spring be­fore be­ing lightly pruned off. There is a new ver­sion called Strong Annabelle, the blos­soms are the size of foot­balls!

I’ve got a hy­drangea pan­ic­u­lata grow­ing nearby in a pot. These have cone-shaped flow­ers and are an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar plant. Mine is called ‘Lime­light,’ a sub­tle lime green flower that will ma­ture to pink in au­tumn.

For smaller pots and plots there’s a dwarf ver­sion of this called ‘Lit­tle Lime.’

Another well-known va­ri­ety is Vanilla Fraise which has cones of white flow­ers that start to flush a rosy pink, be­fore deep­en­ing to a rasp­berry pink. Both are very hardy so are use­ful choices for colder north­ern ar­eas.

These types of hydrangeas can be pruned hard in spring to en­cour­age new wood which bears the flow­ers.

Do­ing a com­pletely dif­fer­ent job is the climb­ing hy­drangea, H. peti­o­laris. It’s a fan­tas­ti­cally use­ful plant as it will hap­pily grow in the shade on a north or east fac­ing wall and it doesn’t need trel­lis or any other sup­ports to climb as it is self sup­port­ing with its cen­tipede-like aerial roots.

How­ever, like many climbers, it likes to set­tle into its new sur­round­ings for a year or even a few be­fore it re­ally takes off. A lot of growth can be hap­pen­ing un­der­ground as it spreads its roots and gets ready for take off.

You re­ally do have to be pa­tient and the blooms will come.

Grow­ing in the shade near the maple I have the beau­ti­ful hy­drangea as­pera Vil­losa.

This has the most gor­geous big vel­vety leaves and lovely white lace cape flow­ers which sur­round a large mauve cen­tre.

This needs space as it does grow quite large and re­quires just a gen­tle prun­ing in spring of old flower heads, back to a pair of fat buds. Fi­nally, my col­lec­tion of mop­heads and lace­caps, the most com­mon and pop­u­lar type of hy­drangea, which are per­fect for pots of colour. They range from pink to blue and pur­ple as well as white.

My blue one stays blue be­cause it’s in a pot of er­i­ca­ceous com­post – if I plant it in the ground it will cer­tainly end up pink. This is be­cause the alu­minium which keeps the flower blue is only avail­able for up­take by the plant in acidic soil, which my soil isn’t.

In pots you can oc­ca­sion­ally top up with alu­minium sul­phate or some blu­ing com­pound.

As a rule, un­less they are grow­ing too large, don’t hard-prune these types as you will re­move fu­ture

If the gi­ant mop­head blooms are not to your taste, try the more del­i­cate lace­cap flow­ers – just re­move faded flow­ers in spring.

If I’ve whet­ted your ap­petite, and you see a hy­drangea you re­ally like in a friend’s gar­den, ask for a cut­ting. Be­cause at this time of year hy­drangea cut­tings will root re­ally quickly.

For a true blue you need acidic soil, oth­er­wise the flow­ers will re­vert to pink

Hy­drangea Pan­ic­u­lata Vanille Fraise

Hydrangeas have a huge va­ri­ety of colour from a zesty green through to creamy white

HAR­VEST cour­gettes quickly be­fore they turn to mar­rows, sec­ond ear­lies and main­crop potatoes if the fo­liage is go­ing yel­low. French and run­ner beans can be cropped reg­u­larly and onions, shal­lots and gar­lic are ready to dig up when fo­liage be­comes yel­low and flops over. RE­MOVE cab­bage white but­ter­fly eggs and black­fly on broad beans and aphids ev­ery­where. CUT back hardy gera­ni­ums­for a sec­ond flush. Dead­head bed­ding plants and peren­ni­als to en­cour­age more flow­ers.

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