In the real garden world, the hydrangea is probably the only long-flowering summer shrub that comes close to this "perfect" description. Apart from roses and Buddleia davidii, to my mind no other frost hardy shrub even comes close to matching this ideal- and we all know roses need constant attention to thrive, requiring endless spraying and pruning, while buddleias are so successful they have become a weed in many places.
Hydrangeas will be improved by a light annual prune and an occasional feed. Otherwise they can be left alone to get on with the job of providing your garden with maximum color for minimal expense and effort. They will fill your beds and borders with fantastic flowers, subduing the weeds in the process, and yes, they are fragrant. Hydrangeas will bloom all summer long, during which time their heads can be cut for fresh flowers indoors. Just before the chills of winter arrive, you can cut and dry some of the lowerheads for long-lasting decoration.
Hydrangeas are a very diverse group of plants. You will be amazed at the range of varieties and colors now available, and by their versatility. Ideal for planting in pots, tubs, urns and windowboxes, hydrangeas make a magnificent display in outdoor living areas at the time these are most in use. Other types give the landscaper of larger gardens great opportunities to create mass plantings of incredible beauty, by water, in shade or sun, under trees, even climbing over walls and other structures.
These tough plants can be grown in a great range of garden situations. When most people think of hydrangeas, it is usually the big-leaved Hydrangea macrophylla, with their large round flowerheads, they have in mind. These macrophyllas are some of the most resilient garden shrubs, tolerating coastal winds and even wet or boggy soil where virtually all other shrubs would die. Some will tolerate shade as long as it is not too dry or dense. Most will grow in acid or alkaline (lime) soil, which is most unusual, as nearly all shrubs dislike lime.
Recent work by hybridists worldwide has meant a greatly increased range of both mophead and lacecap macrophylla hydrangeas is now available, and brings the genus once more into prominence. In the pages which follow, my aim has been to provide today's gardeners with up-to-date information about this classic shrub.
-aus Hydrangeas, von Glyn Church, Pat Greenfield. © 3. März 2001 , verwendet mit der freundlichen Genehmigung von Firefly Books Ltd.