Written on June 2, 2010 at 7:17 am , by Justin W. Hancock
Hydrangeas are some of the most popular garden plants around — and for good reason. Most have gorgeous blooms and there’s a wealth of varieties, so you can find one for sun or shade, even in the North!
One of the most intriguing varieties is a golden-leafed oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Little Honey’).
This little beauty has a lot going for it:
- The bright chartreuse foliage looks awesome all spring and summer.
- The leaves have incredible rosy-red fall color.
- It blooms with white flower clusters for weeks in summer.
- It’s a named selection of a North American native plant.
- It has a dwarf habit (for oakleaf hydrangeas), growing only 4 feet tall and wide.
- It loves a shaded or partially shaded spot.
This is a young specimen in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden. It’s just the second year it’s in the ground so it still looks a bit runty, but the golden foliage really lights up the corner it’s tucked into!
Written on January 23, 2010 at 8:31 am , by Justin W. Hancock
Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden manager Sandra Gerdes shared this photo of beautyberry (Callicarpa) after an ice storm.
Written on November 25, 2009 at 7:44 am , by Justin W. Hancock
What’s America’s favorite flower? Based on the amount of mail we get about them, I’d guess it’s hydrangeas. It’s not hard to see why, with their beautiful blooms. Add on the fact that hydrangeas are relatively deer resistant (I know there are lots of you out there who may disagree, but many gardeners do grow these shrubs without fear of seeing them mowed down by Bambi) and it’s like a match made in heaven.
If, that is, you choose the right varieties for you. There are several different kinds, and unfortunately none of them are one-size-fits-all plants. Here’s a quick cheat sheet on hydrangea types:
If you have sun, choose varieties of Hydrangea paniculata. They’re also a good bet if you live in a cold climate (Zones 3 or 4). Most are white, but some newer varieties like Quick Fire and Vanilla Strawberry have a red or pink blush.
If you want cut flowers, choose reblooming varieties of Hydrangea macrophylla. They’ll start producing flowers in June and usually continue through fall. Endless Summer is the classic type, but there are others such as the Let’s Dance series or Mini Penny if you look hard enough.
If you want a no-brainer, go with oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). This is the more carefree hydrangea I’ve ever grown, and it puts on the best fall show of any of my hydrangeas, too.
Interest piqued? Learn about other great types and varieties here!
By the way: What’s your favorite hydrangea? Share by commenting below!
Written on November 6, 2009 at 11:44 am , by Everyday Gardeners
Viburnums truly are plants for all seasons. I’ve added half a dozen different kinds to my yard because I love their pink or white flowers in the spring, their pink, red, blue, or black berries summer through early winter, and outstanding fall color. Brandywine viburnum, pictured above is a type of possumhaw viburnum (I love that common name!). Those with more refined tastes may refer to it by its alternate common name, smooth witherod. This particular variety is known for its spectacular display of pink and blue berries. Mine is only in its second year, so hasn’t bloomed and fruited yet, but the fall color this year has been gorgeous. I’m hoping that by next year it will have some of its fragrant white flower clusters, and produce some berries. But I’d grow it for the fall color alone.
The American highbush cranberry viburnum (left) has white flowers in spring and red cranberry-like fruits from mid-summer into winter. Berries are tart, but edible, similar to its namesake fruit. Unless you’re a lover of pucker-producing fruits, it’s not likely to become your favorite, but the flavor is acceptable. Birds usually leave the berries alone until the fruits have frozen a few times. I’ve been told that winged wildlife like them best fermented on the shrub. This time of year, the rich red, three-lobed leaves set off the ripe fruits nicely.
Another viburnum with great fall color is the compact Korean spice viburnum (right). It kicks off the spring season with extremely fragrant clusters of pinkish white blooms that develop into red fruits which ripen black. Fall color is bright red with touches of yellow and orange, creating a warm glow from within the center of the shrub.
The doublefile viburnum (below) is sometimes mistaken for dogwood in the springtime with its large white blooms on horizontal branches. The flowers develop into red berries that ripen black. This time of year, it puts on another display in fiery hues. Because its leaves are covered in fine hairs, it lacks the glossy showiness of the Korean spice or possumhaw viburnums, but it puts on a nice show nonetheless.
Other viburnums in my yard are less showy this time of year. Leaves of Blue Muffin arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), for example, turn subdued yellowish brown. Others, such as the lantanaphyllum viburnum (Viburnum X rhytidophylloides) are semi-evergreen, keeping their green color until their leaves drop.
I’ll keep on the lookout for other viburnums to add to the landscape. Although there’s not a lot of space left, I’ll find a way to cram in a few more of these showy shrubs because they are so attractive in several seasons, are easy to grow, and virtually trouble-free.
Written on October 4, 2009 at 6:12 am , by Justin W. Hancock
‘Bloomerang’, a new lilac variety that blooms in spring, then puts out new flushes of flowers from midsummer until frost is one of the hottest shrubs of 2009.
Like other lilacs, it features wonderfully fragrant flowers. But this one fits in just about any garden as it grows about 5 feet tall and wide. It’s perfect for a medium-size hedge, as a foundation planting by your front door, or mixed in with you favorite perennials.
Interested in trying ‘Bloomerang’ in your garden? Check it out at: White Flower Farm