In 2017, we’ve had rain, we’ve had rain, we’ve had more rain. It’s raining now! My annuals are slow to bloom, probably due to lack of sunshine. But one thing for sure seems to be doing well around Toronto. Hydrangeas!
The smooth hydrangea or Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ in my dry-shade front garden (above) is mammoth! Lots of rain and coolish weather must agree with it. On the occasional hot day, all that lush growth sulks. But before I can get out the watering can, it rains again. Happy ‘Annabelle’ – and happy gardener.
In my backyard Microgarden, it’s the same with H. paniculata ‘Quick Fire,’ which I prune back hard every spring so it doesn’t outgrow the narrow bed. This doesn’t hurt flower production, because panicle hydrangeas, like smooth hydrangeas, flower on the stems they produce this year. This year, it’s particularly generous with its flowers.
As you can see, though I prune for width it still gets tall. (Some years, it also goes fiery red.) ‘Quick Fire’ opens a month earlier than other panicle hydrangeas (ones with cone-shaped flowers like H. ‘Pinky Winky’ and ‘Limelight’ – I also have both) for an extra-long display, optimizing impact in my small garden over time and space.
Smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) and oakleaf hydrangea (H. quercifolia) are both native to eastern North America – though not native to our zone. But panicle hydrangeas are especially attractive to pollinators. The true flowers aren’t the showy bits on the outside, they’re the wee florets in the middle.
For reference, if you have plenty of space and full sun (my Microgarden is part-sun), ‘Quick Fire’ might look like this picture below in September. Not in my garden, unfortunately.
It’s hard to convey the sense of scale in this picture, taken last fall. Let me assure you, it’s big. Well over two meters/six feet tall, and half again as wide. Jaw-droppingly beautiful.
But back to Toronto in 2017.
Walking in East York today, I couldn’t help admiring fantastic display after fantastic display of hydrangeas. Other Toronto gardeners say they’re having good luck with theirs this year, too. How about you?
Here are just two, close enough to the sidewalk that I could grab a shot without trespassing. I’m no hydrangea expert (and there are so many now!), but I’m taking a stab at identification. Feel free to tell me if I err.
Updating my post to note that I’m trialing some improved hydrangeas from Bloomin’ Easy courtesy of Van Belle Nurseries in B.C. They include one called Lavalamp™ Candelabra™ (Hydrangea paniculata ‘HPOPR013’). You can see why they sometimes replace the official cultivar name. I’ll let you know how mine do next year.