Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hydrangea arborescens ssp. radiata

This beautiful "lacecap" type hydrangea is a subspecies of the native Hydrangea arborescens. It differs from the species in two major areas. First, while a typical Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) has what in hydrangea parlance is called a "mophead" form, the inflorescence of this plant is clearly of the "lacecap" type. Okay, you can see that from the picture; what you can't see from the picture is the silvery pubescence on the back of the leaves that makes them look white when the wind blows. It is a beautiful effect, mirroring the Salvia discolor I just planted in Adelphi in the bed by the street.

You can find this plant in a few places in Fern Valley, the easiest to find is along the road below the parking lot. The good part about looking there is that you will see lovely examples the Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' selected for its dense flower heads, packed with many white flowers. Another native Hydrangea in the section of the road, closest to the Parking Lot, is Hydrangea quercifolia, the Oak=leaf Hydrangea. This is native to the Southeast, but is perfectly hardy here. This species is one that we selected for inclusion in the Cultivar Area. This means that we are acquiring a selection of cultivars of Oak-leaf Hydrangea; we only have a few at present, but we are moving forward. There must be a lot of diversity in this species because there are a lot of cultivars already and many of them are significantly different.

Obviously all these plants bloom right around this time, which is a good time for a woody plant to bloom because the frenzy of spring is over, and while there are still plants to flower, we can appreciate these calm. cool, dependable plants that are happy to live in bright to medium shade. They are beautiful but not ostentatious and demand no more than a minimum amount of light and an average amount of water. No pest. No diseases. Good plants.

No comments: