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Get into the Spring of Things with Hydrangeas
by Pam Beck

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     Springtime means the bigleaf hydrangeas are stirring. Bright-green buds begin to break along pale tan branches and I eagerly anticipate what a dazzling show these mopheads or bigleaf Hydrangea macrophylla will provide as they display their gorgeous blooms weeks before any of the other hydrangea species in my garden.

      Though plummeting temperatures blasted the newly emerging leaves and flower buds of many hydrangea varieties the first week of April, it should only slightly delay the blossoms on remontant bigleaf hydrangeas such as Endless Summer® and the newest addition to the family, Endless Summer® Blushing Bride. Since remontant Hydrangeas bloom on both old and new growth, late frosts (and even some wintertime deer grazing) will not ruin flowering for the entire summer on these hardy plants.

     Lacecap and mophead hydrangeas are also marvelously capricious revealing their color. Some remain baby pink or deep burgundy (as is the case with The Lady in Red™), while others transform themselves decidedly cobalt blue in acidic soils. Even the truest white-flowered selections initially begin lime-green, mature to bright white or pale cream, then finally blush a dusty rose as their flowers age. What other spring-flowering shrub provides this much delicious color throughout summer?

     To elegantly enhance a small garden space or top a stunning container in a semi-shady spot on the patio, dwarf mophead Hydrangeas are the perfect solution. Imagine a mound of fresh hydrangea blooms that you can move around as a decorating accent without ever having to cut them, except to promote more flowers.

     I am saving space on my front porch for the soon to be released Mini Penny™, a 3-4 foot tall and wide remontant H. macrophylla with mildew-resistant, shiny, dark green leaves and large mophead flowers that I can either turn deep blue with a tiny bit of aluminum sulfate or transform into a luscious pink with a pinch of additional lime mixed into the moisture retentive potting medium.

     Perhaps growing even more bigleaf hydrangeas in pots is the answer to my infatuation with this plant since I am about to run out of gardening space.

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Did You Know?

The Dandelion has been declared an endangered wildflower in England.

Spelt, a whole grain related to oats and wheat, was a staple of ancient Roman diets. It’s been available at health food stores in the United States since 1987.

Rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and marjoram are actually members of the mint family.

An Iris has adorned the coat of arms of the kings of France since 1179.

Traditionally, carnations are worn on Mother’s Day; red if one’s mother is alive; white she is deceased.

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New This Season

The Mini PennyTM Hydrangea
Hydrangea macrophylla  'Mini Penny' PP#15,744 Sp07RightImage
This re-blooming mophead hydrangea features prolific blooms in spring, summer and fall (removing spent mopheads encourages fall reblooming). Blooms are pink or blue, depending on soil pH. With limited quantities at select garden centers, the Mini PennyTM does well in a variety of climates- it’s hardy in Zones 5-9, and can grow and produce blooms in Zone 4 with winter protection.

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About our contributor

Pam Beck is a freelance garden writer, photographer and popular lecturer. She has regularly published articles in Carolina Gardener Magazine since 1993 and currently writes for Wakefield and Wake Living Magazine. Pam teaches residential landscaping for Wake Technical Community College’s Adult Continuing Education Program. She is also a local garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and currently serves on the board of advisors of the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina.



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