Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ is beautiful when it’s in flower with creamy white blooms… and still gorgeous when the flowers dry in autumn. Usually these dried flower heads last all winter. Many gardeners tidy up their Hydrangeas in autumn pruning the shrub to remove faded flowers… but it’s such a shame to chop these heads off I think.
In recent years the emphasis has been on perennials in the garden. Visit any flower show, open garden or plant fair and you’ll see that perennials are fashionable… and with good reason. They are inexpensive to buy, easy to look after, grow quickly and produce lots of luscious flowers in every colour you can think of. What’s not to love about that?
I do love perennials but a border composed solely of perennial plants is probably not the best option for a domestic garden. In my opinion every garden needs at least a few shrubs to provide permanent structure. Chosen wisely they give the garden character and form. Woody shrubs often have something interesting to offer all year round. There will be colourful shoots and fresh green leaves in spring, masses of summer flowers followed by colourful autumn leaves, glossy red fruit or golden seedheads.
Incorporating shrubs into a mixed border means you’ll need to be more generous with the space you allocate for planting. That can be quite scary! My husband nearly had a heart attack when he first clapped eyes on our wide borders that landscapers prepared to my specifications. He simply couldn’t believe that the huge expanse of bare earth would ever blend in with the rest of the garden. Now a decade down the line I wish I had been a little bolder and made the borders deeper. I recommend mixed borders should be a minimum of 2 metres wide and if you have the space the best bet is to go for 3 metres.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ has masses of large round creamy white flowers in summer. Flowers are produced from July to September. They are not a bit like your Granny’s pink Hydrangeas that you always hated! Annabelle will make a decent sized shrub at least 1.5 metres/ 5 feet tall and the same width in about 10 years. So you can see that a skinny border is not an option for this plant. As autumn advances the white blooms develop a lovely lime green tinge then finally dry and fade to this glorious golden shade you see above.
Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ produces flowers on new wood every year. To prevent removing fresh spring growth with all of this years potential flowers it’s probably best to prune lightly in late winter.
Position your Hydrangeas carefully, apparently they bloom best when they receive sun in the morning and afternoon shade. For best viewing plant them where the low rays of the sun will shine through the flower heads in autumn and winter.
You can tell a lot about most plants by looking at the leaves. Hydrangeas are no exception. They have large wide leaves to make the most of the available light in the partially shaded woodland edge positions they prefer. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ originates from North East America where summers are hot and winters extremely cold. These hardy plants can easily survive our weather conditions in the UK and have been successfully growing here for the past 300 years or so.
If you’d like more information on identification or pruning hydrangeas please take a look at HydrangeasHydrangeas.com where Hydrangea specialist Judith King generously shares her knowledge.
Do you grow Hydrangeas in your garden? Which is your favourite?