We grow several different types of Hydrenga at Aberglasney. The first to flower are the climbing types which are soon followed by the serrata type which are miniature lace caps. From late July through to October the more typical lace caps and mop heads come into flower. There are also more unusual types like the velvety leaved villosa group or the dainty arborescens type. All of which make excellent garden plants especially as they flower in mid and late summer.
We have used them in an informal way at Aberglasney where they are dotted through different parts of the Gardens. They suit so many different areas including exotic woodlands, typical shrub borders, Asiatic borders and mixed borders. They also mix well with other shrubs especially spring flowering ones and therefore spread the season of interest. We have planted the sprawling Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’ next to large leaved yellow Azalea to particularly good effect.
Other types like the paniculata can be kept quite small - about a metre and a half, and are grown next to foliage plants like Catalpa. These types are useful in large borders near the front as they can add real impact.
The arborescens types are excellent in shade where the white heads light up the area in mid-summer when colour can be hard to find. These Hydrangea also stay quite short only getting to about a metre and a half and they require very little pruning.
It is however the very large villosa types that steal the show as they create tremendous impact with their purple lace caps and hairy leaves. We find these do best in sheltered woodland areas at the back of the border and they also seem to hold a respectable flower head for about two months.
By using different types of Hydrangea through a large area or a whole garden you can create a striking effect. We find it best not to plant them together as is traditionally done; by planting them separately they can be admired individually. These splashes of colour also look good from a distance especially as you always seem to see more than one clump.