Lace-cap hydrangeas are some of my favourite shrubs, and this is one of the nicest, Hydrangea aspera strigosa.
The centre is made up of tiny purple/pink flowers, edged with a fringe of slightly larger creamy white ones, which gives it that distinctive lace-cap appearance.
It’s a large shrub, eventually reaching about 2 metres.
Hydrangea macrophylla is another pretty lace-cap type, with tiny blue flowers in the centre.
The other main group of hydrangeas, are the more familiar mop-heads. They have bigger, rounded shaped flowers, like this Hydrangea Annabelle with it’s showy white flowers.
Hydrangea quercifolia is much less showy than Annabelle, although the flowers are still quite large. It has the added bonus of beautifully shaped leaves that turn fiery red/orange in autumn.
Generally, hydrangeas like to grow in semi-shaded areas in moist soil that doesn’t become water-logged. They’re really a woodland edge sort of plant, so however tempted you are, don’t buy them if you can only offer a dry, sunny patch of garden.
September/October is a good time to plant them, include plenty of soil improver, garden compost or composted bark into the planting hole to get them off to a good start.
Over time, picked flowers will gradually dry and turn into beautiful sepia tones that last for ages. I’ve also heard that standing flower stems in glycerine will help to preserve the colour and prevent them becoming dry and crackly, has anyone tried this?
all images: Jill Anderson