Hydrangeas are among the most popular garden shrubs, known for the soft colour palette of their large blooms and their late flowering in the season when many others have already gone over. The most commonly known species of course are the ‘mophead’ varieties, with their football-like pink or blue heads of many tiny flowers, which have contributed largely to the family’s popularity, especially with their adaptability to varying soil types and levels of available sunlight.
But there are others, so see our list below:
H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’
‘Annabelle’ is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub with a lax, bushy habit and a very gradual growth rate – expect it to reach full maturity within 10-20 years. It has pale green foliage and wonderful, large heads of pale green flowers turning pure white as they age.
H. aspera sargentiana
Aspera is slightly larger than Annabelle and will bear large velvety leaves, peeling bark and purple or blue ‘lacecap’ type flowers with white outer florets throughout summer and autumn.
H. involucrata hortensis
Hortensis is one of the more diminutive varieties on our roster with a terminal height of only a metre, however, what it lacks in size it compensates for in looks – sprouting bushels of tiny lavender flowers laid over broad emerald foliage.
H. macrophylla ‘Geoffrey Chadburn’
‘Geoffrey Chadburn’ is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub with a wide-spreading habit and large, broad leaves with gorgeous deep pink, ‘lace-cap’ blooms.
H. paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’
This variety of Hydrangea is a large, upright and vigorous, deciduous cultivar, with narrow, ovate foliage, which in summer will be offset nicely by its coned clusters of bright pink and cream flowers that will both persist from mid summer to mid-autumn.
H. quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’
It’s no wonder why this variety has this name, as this deciduous cultivar sports tall pillars of many small, white, lobed flowers. Quercifolia also has one of the most dynamic colour palettes among Hydrangeas within its blooms, ranging between pale pinks and browns as well as the titular white depending on season. It also has large, bright green oak-like leaves which turn bright corals and reds in autumn.
H. serrata ‘Blue Bird’
Another hydrangea with good autumn colour, the Blue Bird is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub whose mid-green leaves turn to a maroon russet when autumn arrives and whose lacy flower caps will deepen from a pale to navy blue as the year progresses.
When discussing Hydrangea cultivation, the value of judicious soil care is worth mentioning, as the ph. level of the flowers’ environment can drastically affect the colouration of the blooms themselves. A good rule of thumb would be that an acidic soil would equate to blue spectrum flowers, while the further alkaline you go, the further into the pink you get. So, with a little cunning, and the addition of either ericaceous compost (acid) or lime (alkaline), you can manipulate your entire collection to suit the palette of your garden!
There is a warning to be attached to these plants, however. If ingested they can cause mild stomach upset, and their foliage can aggravate skin conditions, so, as with many garden plants, care should always be taken.
By Josh Ellison