I do not intend to be discouraging, but flowering of mophead hydrangeas has been quite disappointing in recent years. Not for a year, but three. Early springs and late frosts have been to blame a few times, but I think this spring should have been ideal. Yet, there were few spring flowers and only a scattered few repeat blooms on remontant varieties (ones that flower on last year’s and new growth).
I am cheered by a single bloom this second week of September, and I believe I am seeing the start of other flower buds. Starting late, an early frost might ruin early autumn blooms, but I am momentarily encouraged while I wait to confirm that these are flower buds and not new growth.
Years ago, a Goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera × heckrottii ‘Gold Flame’) faded over several years in deep shade, but more concerning than the lack of sunlight, I expect, was the shallow soil and dense roots of neighboring Swamp maples (Acer rubrum). I’ve decided that almost nothing will survive this spot, and the torture required to kill a honeysuckle must be extreme. I’ve considered planting another on and off for several years, but without a plant in front of me the thought passed and I’ve done without, until now. This one is going in a different spot where I’m certain this variegated leaf honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica ‘Aureoreticulata’, above) will flourish. No flowers are expected until next year, but the coloring of leaves was enough to catch my eye, and to earn a prominent position where it will be seen regularly. I like it well enough I might go back for a second.
While the yellow leafed ‘Worcester Gold’ Blue Mist shrub (Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Worcester Gold’) has long been surpassed by newer introductions, two shrubs thrive in the reflected heat of the driveway. Only one of two ‘Hint of Gold’ caryopteris (Caryopteris × clandonensis ‘Lisaura’) remains, with the survivor severely diminished after pruning to cut out diseased stems. The source of the troubles of ‘Hint of Gold’ are a mystery as one stem after another wilted and died, and I fully expected that cutting out three quarters of the shrub would not extend its life. But, there’s a chance, and the few stems are now flowering with no sign of previous troubles. The garden’s disappointments are often followed by unexpected successes.