The old-fashioned charm of hydrangeas

The old-fashioned charm of hydrangeas
Hydrangeas These shade loving beauties are the real workhorses of the garden, producing massive flowers in both mophead and lacecap forms with a wide variety of colours and varieties. They are moisture loving and love a cool corner in the garden, but they will also tolerate a half shade providing there is plenty of access to water. Hydrangea Macrophylla or the mophead variety is probably the best known of all the Hydrangeas and one of their interesting quirks is their ability to change colour! This colour change is due to the change in the soil ph which affects aluminium availablilty. Blue and pink varieties are blue in acidic conditions, mauve in acidic to neutral conditions and pink in alkaline conditions. White varieties remain white and are not affected by ph of the soil. Pruning this hydrangea seems to cause some confusion. It is best to leave the faded bloom on over the Winter as this provides some frost protection for the tender buds below. Remove the dead blooms in the Spring, cutting back to the first buds lower down the stem. The lacecap varieties are slightly hardier and the flowerheads can be cut back to the second pair of leaves directly after flowering. On older more established plants cut one or two of the older stems at the base to encourage new replacement growth that will flower more freely. Poor neglected plants can be given a new lease of life by cutting off all the stems at the base, be warned though, this will remove all the flowers for this Summer and new stems will not flower until next year. Here are some varieties to try; Hydrangea macr. 'Lady in Red' (red) Hydrangea macr. 'Bela' (blue) Hydrangea macr. 'Benxi' (white) Hydrangea macr. 'Blueberry Cheesecake' (Blue, Mauve) Hydrangea Lady in Red Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' Annabelle is probably one of the most loved white hydrangeas. It is a stunning white drumstick flower which can often measure 10'' in diameter. Annabelle will produce flowers every year even after severe pruning or a cold harsh winter. It looks amazing planted as a hedge and you can prune back severley in Winter to keep it tidy. A new introduction - Hydrangea arborescens 'Invincibelle' is the first pink flowered mop head form of hydrangea to be sold commercially. Also known as 'Pink Annabelle' it has large globular flowers that bloom in June and July and repeat until the first frosts. Each flower head is densely packed with showy florets that emerge a deep dark pink, maturing to a bright pink. As with Annabelle, Invincibelle enjoys the partial shade and a moist but free draining soil. Hydrangea Benxi Hydrangea paniculata 'Magical Fire' and Hydrangea pan. 'Mega Mindy' are two brilliant new varieties. 'Mega Mindy' is a solid, fast growing shrub which carries large panicles of flowers but does not collapse under the weight of the flowers. It grows to approximately 4-5ft tall. The flowers appear in late July-early August and at first are white but turn pinkish red as they mature. It flowers every year on new growth which means they can be cut back hard every year without interferring with the flowering. 'Magical Fire' is a spectacular new variety similar to 'Mega Mindy' starting off white, then dark pink and then a fiery red in Autumn. It has gorgeous red stems which are a lovely contrast to the healthy green foliage. For the latest special offers from Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, visit our website.

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