Tuesday, November 19, 2013

This Poor Hydrangea

Yesterday's little bit of rain brought very warm, balmy air and it was lovely to be outside. A little breezy. Temps in the 60s and sunny.

Now that the leaves are down I can take a look at the hydrangeas, which need some help.

This poor panicle hydrangea, a Tardiva standard that I planted very early along the side of the house (in 2006), has had such problems over the years.

The trunk was badly curved at the very base and I had to keep it staked to prevent it falling over. Even now, seven years later, the curve still makes this hydrangea unstable. Left on its own it leans over, especially since as a tree form it is top heavy.

It got smashed to bits in 2011 in the snowstorm. I thought I lost it. Regrowth has been all over the place, shooting up from the damaged areas, creating a thicket. All the weedy branches lean way over and had to be staked too.

So today I cut everything off, leaving just two upper branches to try to recreate the tree form. I want it to be tall and upright and to stay above the fothergilla planted below it.

I staked one whippy branch to the ground and tied the other one to that. Kind of a botch job, and where I lopped off branches at the trunk it is a mess, but I'm not sure what else to do with this deformed panicle hydrangea.

The Tardiva panicle hydrangea planted at the top of the gravel garden, however, is a really neat shape. A big symmetrical teardrop, very graceful. This one was never pruned into a single trunk, in fact it has not been pruned at all, and it looks great just as is, whether dried and brown in November, or full and flowery in summer.

The Tardiva hydrangeas in the Drive By Garden need some help. They are not as prettily shaped as the one above, and they sprawled this summer. While they made a nice hedge in flower, they were gangly and flopping.

I'm not sure if I want them to branch to the ground like the pretty one by the gravel garden, or whether I should prune them to be more upright -- not a tree form like the poor thing by the house, but more hedge-like.

I'm waiting for inspiration on that.