Who doesn't love hydrangeas?  Especially in late June, when most types are strutting their stuff.  So, lots to see and comment on, starting with the Oakleaf hydrangeas seen above and below.

Hydrangea Varieties

Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) have become super-popular in the last few years, especially by shade gardeners, since they thrive there.  They're also less thirsty than other types, especially when grown in the shade.  Their exfoliating bark looks fabulous all winter, and breeders are coming up with fabulous new varieties, like the shorter type above that's spilling nicely over a wall. 

Still, I'll always love the old-fashioned mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) that I associate with the beach towns in Virginia where I grew up, and they continue to be the most popular hydrangea in the U.S.  Gardeners are sometimes frustrated in their attempts to have these bloom in blue because the color depends so much on soil acidity, despite breeders' best efforts to produce reliable blue-bloomers.  I'm one of those frustrated gardeners myself, saddled with the more acidic soil that creates pink blooms.  (Or to be honest, the blooms on my supposedly blue hydrangeas are a rather dull in-between color.)

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I should stick with the pink-bloomers, rather than attempting blue.  True pink bloomers are gorgeous.

No matter the color, hydreangeas look great over a bed of hostas.

Lacecap Hydrangeas (H. macrophylla normalis) have become quite popular in the last few years, and have the advantage (to some) of more delicate flowers that won't droop, as mopheads sometimes do. (

Isn't it curious how some plants bloom in both colors?  Curious but beautiful!

Above is a massing of lacecap hydreangeas in my former gardener, where I paired them with astilbes and 'Anthony Waterer' spireas - because they all bloomed at the same time.

Another type of lacecap hydrangea is the variegated variety, shown above en masse in one of the Smithsonian's sculpture gardens.   I've noticed that they don't bloom as well as the ones with plain foliage.

Cold-Hardy

Above is a Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' blooming happily in Buffalo.  It's much more cold-hardy than most hydrangeas, so wildly popular in the North.  Its flowers are HUGE.

Hydrangea paniculata is another cold-hardy group of hydrangeas, and the "PeeGee" is its best known variety.  All paniculatas bloom in late summer, long after the macrophyllas have faded.  Paniculatas are also the only hydrangea type that can be pruned into a tree form, as the 'Tardiva' example above was when it was first planted.  They can be allowed to grow to their normal 8-10 feet tall, or kept shorter by pruning.

Finally, the climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) is often confused with the Japanese Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) which is actually the one in the photo above.  While the climbing hydrangea's flowers are definitely lacecap, the Schizophragma's flowers are somewhat different and its leaves are definitely more silvery.  Still, I see mistakes in identification all over the web.  Well, they're both gorgeous, vigorous, and bloom without full sun.

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