Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blue Suede Blooms

Well … it’s one for the shade, two for the show, three to get ready - now blow wind, blow …
But don’t you step on my big blue blooms! Winter can do anything – but lay offa my true blue blooms. (Could Elvis have written it better?) If ever there was a group of plants that can rock your garden, it has to be Hydrangeas. The clouds of huge brilliant blooms are just wonderful.

A few years ago northern gardeners thought they found heaven when The Original Endless Summer™ Hydrangea came onto the market. Finally, a plant that guaranteed enjoyment of those gorgeous blue blooms no matter how what the weather did over the cold seasons. Gone were the days of having to erect a cage to hold insulation just to revel in the glory that only a Mophead Hydrangea can bestow upon a garden.

Endless Summer definitely has a whole lotta blue-min’ goin’ on. No disappointment here, the color just continues popping out until frost. Warmer climate gardeners are just as in love with the plant where the season is even longer. All Hydrangeas have fabulous flowers that change constantly from the time they open until they dry on the shrub. At some points in the color show, there are a few that do not look real due to the fantastic hues and gradient tones that appear on the petals. Reblooming Hydrangeas are not really new; it is a trait that a mere few in this vast family of shrubs have that has not been widely known past the small circles of Hydrangea collectors and breeders for decades.

Ball-shaped (Mopheads) is the most commonly known division of the Hydrangea species. These are the big leaf Hydrangeas or French Hydrangeas; to state it properly they are Hydrangea macrophylla (macro means ‘large’ – phylla means ‘leaves’). The few plants that repeatedly bloom on new growth (or “new wood”) were not produced on a large scale until recently. This new sensation started when one nursery employee’s interest in what he saw as an unusual occurrence with a neighbor’s shrub … it kept putting out new blooms until frost. In Minnesota, this is nothing short of miraculous! The cuttings obtained from this uncommon plant were placed into the test gardens of Bailey Nurseries and remained there under observation for years. It wasn’t until Dr. Dirr (a knowledgeable plantsman of great renown) happened to witness it that the Endless Summer brand was born. Thankfully, this tremendous garden flower power is no longer just lolling about in a test garden. Once he began chatting enthusiastically with fellow plantsmen, he discovered that some people knew about other obscure forms of Hydrangeas that also bloomed on new and old wood.

This historical journey is long past due! So, how many of them are there and what colors do they come in? Well, pinks and blues, white and even a red one. Another line of reblooming hydrangeas includes beautiful newcomers developed by a Japanese breeder (and rock guitarist) named Ryoji Irie of Japan. His double flowering Together and Double Pink selections are extremely yummy. These are marketed under the brand Forever and Ever® along with two bred by Darwin Plants. A new dwarf blue, Mini Penny from the Gardener’s Confidence Collection, marketed under the Royal Majestics™ series. Dr. Michael Dirr is the breeder of Blushing Bride and Mini Penny.

New named varieties of Hydrangeas that rebloom on new growth are listed below. The link will take you to a full information page.

Endless Summer® 'The Original' Hydrangea

Endless Summer® 'Blushing Bride' Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Together Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Double Pink Hydrangea

Forever and Ever 'Blue Heaven'™ Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Original Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® 'Peppermint' Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® 'Red' Hydrangea

Mini Penny™ Hydrangea

Old varieties of reblooming mophead Hydrangea are harder to find but worth looking for. Try searching at specialty Hydrangea nurseries for the below named varieties. The links will lead you to photos and growing information.

David Ramsey Hydrangea, page 2

Penny Mac Hydrangea, page 2

Oak Hill Hydrangea, page 2

Decatur Blue Hydrangea, page 2

All Summer Beauty Hydrangea, page 2

Dooley Hydrangea, page 2

For those of you that are drawn to Lacecap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) there are two older varieties of this family that also rebloom. These are sometimes referred to as Mountain Hydrangeas. The first set of flowers open in early summer, followed with a new flush In September. Click on the links for photos and growing information.

Blue Deckle Hydrangea

Coerulea Lace Hydrangea, page 2

1 comment:

Sheila said...

Thanks for sharing your comments. I too love hydrangias and my favorite rebloomer is 'Blushing Bride', a white one