Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My Favorite Hydrangea

Day 156
The Daily DuBrule

I am in love with oakleaf hydrangeas. I love the fact that the flowers are fragrant. We're not talking the powerful perfume of a trumpet lily, the scent is light and soft and sweet. They are dramatic plants. Their branches reach out in all directions like a living piece of sculpture. Most hydrangeas in the winter look like dead sticks. Hydrangea quercifolia has an interesting exfoliating bark and makes the winter landscape much more interesting. 

The flowers are borne on the tips of last year's wood, so that makes pruning a challenge. After they finish blooming, and while the beautiful dried flowers are still on the plant, any pruning should be done to shape the plant. I am not suggesting you cut the entire plant back. Instead, select out some branches that have gotten too long and dangly and cut them back to where you want branching to occur. Perhaps remove some of the older branches that may be weak and break in snowstorm back to the base. This is pruning as plant sculpting and it takes patience and a good eye.

In the fall, the second show begins. The foliage turns a deep, rich, burgundy red. It is one of the highlights of the late season garden. Oakleaf hydrangeas are native plants, attract pollinators galore, and will grow in sun or shade. They are hardy in a cold winter and not susceptible to common garden pests or diseases. All in all, they are an excellent addition to the landscape. 

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