One of the perks of being a landscape designer is that you occasionally get to ‘rescue’ plants from a client’s garden. While my first preference is to transplant them on site, there are times the client simply doesn’t like a plant they’ve had in their garden for years. That was the case with these two oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) that made their way to my garden about a year ago.
I was secretly thrilled that my client didn’t like her oakleaf hydrangeas because they were on my ‘must-have’ list of plants but for some reason I had never gotten around to buying any. Fate, or perhaps Mother Nature, had intervened and handed me not one, but two, of these fantastic southeastern US native shrubs. I immediately planted them in a semi-shady spot near other native woodland plants like rosebay rohododendron (Rhododendron maximum) and white fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus).
Last year, I didn’t get any flowers but I did get treated to an amazing display of foliage from my oakleaf hydrangeas. The leathery leaves, some almost 10″ across, always looked fresh as if newly unfurled, even during the heat of the summer. Then when the weather got cooler, the real show started. Here’s a look at the leaves throughout the season.
◊ Oakleaf hydrangea is the quintessential woodland garden plant. With its large coarsely textured leaves, its ideal for adding texture to almost any shady spot.
◊ The species grows into a large, 8′ x 8′, shrub. If you prefer a small shrub look for cultivars such as ‘Sikes Dwarf’ that top out around 3′ tall and slightly wider.
◊ Hardy in zones 5 – 9, it prefers a site with well-draining soil that is acidic.
◊ Be sure to add an occasional shovelful of compost and mulch around the base to protect tender roots.
◊ As an added bonus, the bark on older branches of oakleaf hydrangeas exfoliates.
◊ Use oakleaf hydrangea as a specimen plant or, for greater effect, mass them together for a colorful hedge.
◊ Oakleaf hydrangea is not reliably deer-resistant.
One of my new favorite blogs is Ecosystem Gardening by Carole Brown. The other day, Carole was blogging about the importance of native plants and she posed the question ‘What are you doing in your wildlife garden to give a little back?’
That got me thinking about a post I had written back in March 2010, Garden Smackdown Native Challenge, in response to a challenge issued by Andrew Keys, author of the blog Garden Smackdown. Andrew had asked readers to list the native plants they were growing in their gardens.
In that March 2010 post, I listed 11 native trees and shrubs and 15 native perennials growing in my garden. I added lots of plants to my garden last year so I decided to consult my records and see if I could answer Carole’s question, ‘What am I doing to give back’ , by saying I’ve added to the growing list of native plants in my habitat garden.
Native Plants Added in 2010
So, now it’s my turn to ask you a question… what native plants have you added to your garden lately? if you feel like joining in the fun, why not write a post on your blog and add the link here.