Heavenly Hydrangeas (Part 2)
Last week I wrote about “mophead” hydrangeas that I grow in my garden. This week is let’s look at some “lacecap” varieties. From a design standpoint, I love using this kind of hydrangea in woodland-style gardens for a more natural look; somehow the mopheads look out of place. Many clients I meet haven’t made the acquaintance of these kinds of hydrangeas, and sometimes I gain a convert or two from people who didn’t think they liked hydrangeas at all.
Technically speaking, there are at least two kinds of lacecaps. Hydrangea macrophylla has two “sub-species,” the lacecaps (with “composite” styles of flowers) and the “mopheads” with globose-headed flowers. (A valuable guide to hydrangeas is the reference book Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide, by Toni Lawson-Hall and Brian Rothera, to which I am indebted in trying to explain this distinction).
I’ll begin with my favorite. Hydrangea ‘Lanarth White’ is a stunning lacecap in my garden. I grow two of them in front of three dark, tall cherry laurels next to my deck. Except for this year, when the snows hit them hard, they have a fairly upright habit, since their flowers are lighter and airier than the big mopheads’ blooms. This hydrangea is more sun-tolerant than most, and easy to find in the trade. Its’ tiny fertile ‘true’ flowers, grouped in the center of the corymb, are blue in my soil and provide a nice landing platform for insects looking for nectar.
The other non-serrata lacecap that I grow is ‘Lilacina.’ This one tends to get tall and leggy so periodically I take out some of the largest canes in an attempt to keep it in scale.
Apart from the Hydrangea macrophylla lacecaps, there are the Hydrangea serrata varieties, native to the woodlands of Japan and Korea.( These are also sometimes listed as H. macrophylla subsp. serrata.) They stay smaller and are reputed to be more cold-hardy, although this is a matter of some debate among experts. My personal favorite in this group is ‘Blue Billows,’ shown below.
Finally, I have a few of the newer Japanese imports – one called ‘Purple Tiers’ and another called ‘Diadem.’ Their flowers are smaller and the infertile ones closer together. If you plant these in your garden, place them where their subtle, delicate beauty can be appreciated, for the flowers are fleeting.Explore posts in the same categories: landscape, photography comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.