Hy­drangea va­ri­eties add long-last­ing colour to the gar­den

The Peterborough Examiner - - ARTS & LIFE - NOR­MAN WIN­TER

Elec­tric blue and neon pur­ple in “The Gar­den Guy’s” hy­drangeas made 2019 an un­for­get­table year in the gar­den. These colours came cour­tesy of Let’s Dance Rave hy­drangeas from Proven Win­ners. We’ve all seen those photos in cat­a­logues and brochures mak­ing us won­der if those flow­ers re­ally will look like that for me, and I can say, yes, they did!

This was the Year of the Hy­drangea at The Gar­den Guy’s house. I planted 25 of them, best I can count, rep­re­sent­ing three species and seven va­ri­eties. They all per­formed very well, but I want to tout three in par­tic­u­lar. Let’s Dance Rave lit­er­ally stole the show in the gar­den, which is hard to do when companion plants were Com­pact Elec­tric Or­ange SunPa­tiens. You can im­me­di­ately gather that this gar­den was a lit­tle on the gaudy side and per­haps per­fect for a gar­den party dance.

Let’s Dance Rave will get 36 inches tall and as wide, and it is a re­bloomer. I sus­pect it may get a lit­tle taller in the Deep South. It is rec­om­mended for zones 5 to 9, and as with other Hy­drangea macro­phylla va­ri­eties, the colour is re­ally de­pen­dent on soil pH. (Peter­bor­ough is in plant har­di­ness zone 6.) Acidic soil gives in­tense blues and pur­ple, while al­ka­line-rich soil will yield vi­brant pink shades.

At the Coastal Ge­or­gia Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, I had fallen for the Big Daddy hy­drangea that is part of the South­ern Liv­ing Plant Col­lec­tion. The ob­vi­ous ques­tion is would it per­form sim­i­larly at my home in West Ge­or­gia? I can ec­stat­i­cally now shout, “Who’s your daddy?” Yes,

Big Daddy looks happy at The Gar­den Guy’s house, but the shocker to me was how much re­bloom­ing I got. In early Novem­ber, my blooms were ag­ing into a beau­ti­ful kalei­do­scope of pur­ples.

Big Daddy is just that: big flow­ers 10 to 14 inches wide, big plant 5 to 6 feet tall and wide. Like Let’s Dance Rave, colour is de­pen­dent on soil pH. At my house the new blooms are lighter blue, and this shift in colour I sus­pect is com­ing with age and the cooler 45-de­gree nights we’ve been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. Big Daddy is rec­om­mended for zones 6 to 9 and, like Let’s Dance Rave, will thrive in part sun, morn­ing sun and af­ter­noon shade, or high fil­tered light.

My last shout-out goes to Chan­tilly Lace. This is a se­lec­tion of Hy­drangea pan­ic­u­lata that dif­fers from a lot of other va­ri­eties of this species in that it has the large ster­ile flow­ers and small fer­tile flow­ers. It was a pol­li­na­tor mag­net, at­tract­ing swal­low­tails, hairstreak­s and bees.

If you want glo­ri­ous white hy­drangea blooms in mid-to late-sum­mer with the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of pol­li­na­tors, then this is the one for you. It is rec­om­mended for zones 3 to 8. It is large, reach­ing 5 feet tall and wide. It blooms on cur­rent sea­son’s growth, so cut­ting back will be part of your reg­i­men. This hy­drangea can go in full sun to part shade.

The Gar­den Guy hopes you’ll take ad­van­tage of this time of the year to stroll the land­scape and see where the ad­di­tion of a few hy­drangeas might daz­zle with colour and but­ter­flies. You may very well find your­self shout­ing “Let’s dance!” and “Who’s your daddy?”

Big Daddy hy­drangea pro­duces enor­mous flow­ers on plants that will reach 5 to 6 feet tall and as wide.

NOR­MAN WIN­TER TNS

Let's Dance Rave hy­drangea blooms with be elec­tric blue, neon pur­ple or rich pink de­pend­ing on soil pH.

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