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August's plant of the month is the hydrangea29 July 2014
August's plant of the month is the hydrangea, one of our all-time favourite shrubs for its gorgeous showy flowers, easy-going nature and superb versatility.
You may not realise, for example, that you can have a hydrangea flowering every day from early July through till the first frosts if you choose well. That's because there are an amazing 23 species, all with their own particular charms.
First to flower is Hydrangea serrata, a Japanese variety with delicately pretty lacecap flowers opening from early July and throughout the summer. Next to arrive are the paniculatas with their huge, showy cone-shaped flowerheads: 'Limelight' is one of the best with pink-tinged, lime green flowers from mid-July through to early October.
Around the same time, good old mop-head varieties (H. macrophylla) begin their annual display of massive pompoms, famously blooming bluer on acid soils. Look out for the old French variety 'Madame Emile Mouillère' in palest dove-grey, or the startling pink 'Ami Pasquier'.
?Late summer hydrangeas include the big, handsome H. aspera Villosa Group, with its huge textural leaves and massive lacecap flowers; and possibly best of all for an autumn display, the lovely oak-leafed hydrangea (H. quercifolia), whose architectural foliage turns brilliant red and orange before it falls.