I did not intend to accumulate the numbers of hydrangeas (or azaleas) in the garden today, but trialing one, then another became a small, but favored collection that belies my stated preference for treasures less common. Yes, the lovely blooms in June come shortly after the garden’s peak, so a void is filled. My son, visiting for the first time in months, and my wife (cooped up at home for three months and counting) both commented today on the large flowers, and thankfully there are plentiful blooms after recent years when these were only a scattered few. With damage in mild and cold winters, and from ill timed freezes, rather than just sit back and enjoy, I’ve had little alternative but to compare the damage between one variety and another. Thankfully, not this year.
One thing is certain, the woody branches of Oakleaf (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) and panicled hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) do not suffer from the cold, or from late freezes after warm spring temperatures have started early growth. Lacecap (Hydrangea macrophylla) and Mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) suffered slight damage in two mid-May freezes, but both will flower with only a few leaves damaged.
Popular, soft stemmed mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are most susceptible to winter damage, but also to early growth in mild early spring temperatures that is then damaged by freezes and frosts. The blue flowered ‘Endless Summer’, and similar hydrangeas such as ‘Penny Mac’, ‘Dear Dolores’, and ‘Nantucket Blue’ have flowered disappointingly the past few years, but all are now nearing their peak in this marvelous spring in the garden.