Hydrangea time

Behind the garden wall is the "secret garden". I have tried to keep the flowers
in this area white and oakleaf hydranges are dominant.

I tend to think about our garden as a play with several acts. Act 1 comes with the emergence of Spring and transforms the barren limbs with capes of greenery. The dominant color, besides green, would be yellow (daffodils, kerria, forstyhia, Carolina jessamine). Oddly, we don't have that many azaleas. A slight intermission before Act 2 begins with the roses commanding complete attention for an all-too-brief period before Act 3 which brings on the hydrangeas.

We have a lot of hydrangeas - around 50-60 varieties - and they do exceptionally well in our garden. The hydrangea binge started when we got tired of mowing a sloped area underneath a huge pecan tree. We planted hydrangeas and they did well and we were hooked. I cannot think of a plant that is easier to grow and offers so much in blooms and landscape enhancement. Granted, occasional problems can arise, but rarely.

The hydrangeas will bloom for a long period of time (practically all summer) which is good because the garden during the long hot days of summer is mostly a green affair with the exception of container plants.

Rose "Sea Foam"
The roses are not completely finished yet. "Sea Foam" grows rampantly up a crape myrtle.
On the archway is "Blaze" which blooms throughout the summer.
Oakleaf Hydrangea "Snowflake"
Oakleaf hydrangea "Snowflake" (discovered in Alabama) usually is covered in
blooms during the summer. The show is just beginning for it.
Hydrangea "Annabelle" and Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata)
Also getting ready is Hydrangea "Annabelle". The blooms will turn to pure white in a few weeks.
Planted around it is Chameleon Plant (Houttuynia cordata), a plant
I would not wish on my worst enemy.
Oakleaf hydrangeas
Oakleaf hydrangeas are not all big. This is "Sikes' Dwarf" which stays under 4 feet tall.
Rose "New Dawn" is to the left.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Breathtaking. I think I need more hydrangeas.

  2. I am also a Hydrangea fan. Yours do pop in all that shade.

  3. The rose climbing through the crape myrtle is brilliant.

    I only have one (oakleaf) hydrangea at the moment.

    I'm with Jean -- I probably need more.

    But I don't have much shade. And hydrangeas need at least some afternoon shade in the South, right? (Unless you want to be out there everyday with a hose.) At least that's what I've heard...

  4. Aaron, the rose combo was an accident! I have seen oakleaf hydrangeas growing in sun but they prefer some shade, especially afternoon shade.

  5. Hi Phillip, I love your garden, I think we have similar tastes in plants, although I only have 3 hydrangeas! You are a few months ahead of me though as my New Dawn has one flower open so far. I have been looking for a hydrangea for a shady corner. I was thinking of Annabelle, but not sure of the shade factor or of the droopy blooms
    Clare x

  6. This is beautiful! Would love it if you would share this and your upcoming posts at my 'Home Sweet Garden' party! Here is the link to this weeks party... http://creativecountrymom.blogspot.com/2014/05/home-sweet-garden-party-527.html ♥ Brooke ♥

  7. Clare, Annabelle blooms really well in the shade.

  8. Phillip, it's because of you that I started growing hydrangeas in my mostly shady woodland garden. I've been eager to see your hydrangeas this year, and of course they didn't disappoint. Just beautiful.

  9. Absolutely beautiful Phillip! My favorite plant as I have lots of shade. The Snowflake is my favorite. Have you been to Aldridge Gardens..it is also beautiful.

  10. Edith, I have been there but it has been a while. I need to get back.

  11. Last October, I visited callaway gardens (it was late October) and the one thing I noted more than anything was the hydrangeas

  12. Jealousy. I killed my only oak leaf hyrdangea, (or the excessively wet spring killed it) two years ago. Rot set in. I look forward to another in the future, and you garden gives me ideas.

  13. Beautiful woodland scenes, Phillip. My eyes are too accustomed to looking at drought.

  14. I love hydrangeas. I have planted 2 this year and really want to add a white one. How can a pink and blue be planted side by side and maintain their colors? I have seen pictures like that and want to do that. I have planted one of each with about 7 ft between them. Any suggestions?

  15. Carol, it is hard to control the colors but basically, adding aluminate sulfate will promote blue blooms and lime will give you pink. I have heard that it is difficult to do and have not tried it myself.


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