By Glenn DiNella
Hydrangeas come in many forms and are great deciduous shrubs to use in the landscape. Their interesting foliage and elegant blooms always grab attention. Some species, such as oakleaf hydrangea, offer attractive reddish foliage in fall.
Although all hydrangeas lose their leaves in winter, you can leave the blooms to serve as dried flower arrangements until spring, then snip them off after that. The rusty-orange-brown peeling bark of oakleaf hydrangea also adds winter interest.
In a foundation planting next to a home, hydrangeas can provide a backdrop to smaller plants in front. Or they can be enjoyed close up. Even a single ‘Snowflake’ oakleaf hydrangea can make a big impact. Planted below this iron railing, the massive blooms drape across to extend a welcome greeting to guests arriving at the front door.
This mass planting of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas is not just another pretty face. Here they serve to screen the underside of a back porch. Whereas the blooms of most old-fashioned French hydrangeas turn shades of pink or blue, depending on soil pH, the massive blooms of ‘Annabelle’ are reliably white.
A single panicle hydrangea (H. paniculata) can serve as a focal point. In this courtyard the large, white conelike flowers (called “panicles”) steal the show, even though the shrub sits amid colorful plantings of phlox and zinnias. Panicle hydrangeas can take more sun and are more drought tolerant than most other hydrangeas.
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