Saturday, July 30, 2016

Guest Post -Types of Hydrangeas: A Visual Guide

The following is a very informative guest post by the authors at  FTD FRESH.
Hydrangeas are a classic flower that are a favorite amongst florists and gardeners. Their large, round flower heads are what distinguish them from other flowers. But did you know that there are five main types of hydrangeas?
Although blue and purple hydrangeas are one of the first colors that come to mind, most species are actually white. In addition, hydrangea leaves can vary from bigleaf, to oakleaf types that display bright colors during the fall.

To help you find the right hydrangea for your home and garden, we’ve outlined the five main types of hydrangeas and their unique and distinguishing factors including: growing conditions, flower shapes and different flower colors. We’ve also created a visual guide so that you can easily reference the different characteristics of each hydrangea type.
Types of Hydrangeas
1.   Bigleaf Hydrangea
Known by their scientific name as Hydrangea macrophylla, bigleaf hydrangeas are the most common type of hydrangea. Other common names include florist’s hydrangea, garden hydrangea, and French hydrangea. Chances are the hydrangeas at your local florist’s shop are bigleaf hydrangeas.
There are three main types of bigleaf hydrangeas:
1.    Mophead hydrangeas are the most recognizable and popular hydrangea due to their large puffy flower heads. Their flowers can be purple, blue, or pink, and they thrive in hardiness zone 6. The flower buds of mophead hydrangeas can be sensitive to the cold, and therefore may not survive the winter months.

2.    Lacecap hydrangeas are almost identical to mophead hydrangeas with the only difference existing in its flowers. They have tiny fertile flower buds in the center, with showy flowers that circle the edge of the flower head. These showy flowers are sterile, and their only purpose is to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to the fertile buds in the center. Like mophead hydrangeas, they thrive in hardiness zone 6.

3.    Mountain hydrangeas are the least common type of bigleaf hydrangea. Scientifically known as Hydrangea serrata, it bears a similar resemblance to lacecap hydrangeas with its flattened heads but has much smaller flowers and leaves. Mountain hydrangeas have hardier buds and thrive in hardiness zone 5 — making them a great choice for areas with late winter cold snaps.

True to its name, the characteristic that distinguishes the bigleaf hydrangeas from other types of hydrangeas is their leaf size. Bigleaf hydrangeas leaves can grow to about 4”-6” long and 3”-5” wide. The leaves are thick, shiny and heart-shaped with short stems. 

Bigleaf hydrangeas prefer shade but not too much shade, as it can result in reduced flowering. Their bloom times occur during June and July and they prefer moist and well-drained soil. It is important to keep the bigleaf hydrangeas watered on a consistent basis as they are sensitive to drought.

It is possible to change the color of your hydrangeas by altering the acidity of the soil. Acidic soil at pH 5.5 or below, will produce blue flowers. Neutral or alkali soils at pH 6.5 and higher, will produce pink flowers. For soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5, either purple flowers or a combination of blue and pink flowers will be produced.

2. Smooth Hydrangea
Also known as wild hydrangeas, the smooth hydrangea is native to the United States. It is a large shrub that can grow up to six feet tall, and is usually planted as a hedge plant. It’s scientific name, Hydrangea arborescens, is derived from the word “arbor” meaning tree due to its branching patterns and size.
Unlike bigleaf hydrangeas, the smooth hydrangea can tolerate hotter climates and thrive in hardiness zones 4 to 9. Their bloom time occurs between June and September and their flowers are typically white and smaller than the bigleaf varieties. Upon first opening, their flowers will appear green and whiten as they mature. The smooth hydrangea is a low-maintenance plant and can prefers to be exposed to full sun and partial shade within the same day.
The most striking cultivar of smooth hydrangea is the “Annabelle,” — which is a name that is commonly used to refer to all smooth hydrangeas. The name is inspired by the town of Anna, Illinois, where the first smooth hydrangea was first discovered in the 1960s. The Annabelle produces white, round flower heads that look like large snowballs and can grow to be 12 inches in diameter.
3. Panicle Hydrangea

Panicle hydrangeas, Hydrangea paniculata, are known for their long panicles from which their large flowers bloom. Their cone-shaped panicles can range from six to 18 inches long, as opposed to the bulb shaped flower heads of other hydrangeas. Their flowers will first appear as white, but as the plant grows older, the flowers may turn pink.

Out of all the hydrangeas, panicle hydrangeas are the most cold-hardy, and can thrive in hardiness zones four to seven. Native to Japan and China, they are one of the few types of hydrangeas that need several hours of sun and can even tolerate full sun. They flower from mid to late summer and the flowers can last a long time.
Because panicle hydrangeas have such persistent flowers, they are great for drying or for use as cut flowers to decorate your home. Their unique cone-shaped height makes them a great addition to any bouquet or centerpiece.
The PeeGee or ‘Grandiflora’ hydrangea is the most popular cultivar of panicle hydrangeas. As with all panicle hydrangeas, they grow into large shrubs and can easily be pruned into trees. However, the PeeGee hydrangea in particular can grow exceptionally large and reaching heights of up to 25 feet.
4. Oakleaf Hydrangea
The oakleaf hydrangea is named for its foliage which is shaped like oak tree leaves. In fact, its scientific name,Hydrangea quercifolia, is derived from Latin word “quercifolia” which literally translates into “oakleaf.”

Not only do its leaves look like oak tree leaves, the oakleaf hydrangea leaves turn color during the fall as well and are the only type of hydrangeas that do this. Their leaves can range from golden orange and bright red, to deep mahogany—making them one of the most attractive shrubs for your fall garden.
The oakleaf hydrangea is one of the few hydrangeas native to the United States. The only other hydrangea that’s native to the US is the smooth hydrangea. The oakleaf hydrangea has white cone-shaped flower heads (similar to those of a panicle hydrangea) and can come in two forms: single blossom and double-blossom. Just like the panicle hydrangea, its flowers will gradually turn pink as the plant matures.
Sturdier than its cousins, the oakleaf hydrangea can withstand a wider range of climate conditions than most bigleaf hydrangeas. Oakleaf hydrangeas can survive drier conditions, and are more winter hardy. Unlike mopheads, these oakleaf hydrangeas need drier, well-drained soil as they are highly sensitive to water log.
The oakleaf hydrangea is a popular choice for gardens because of their long-term benefits. Their flowers bloom in early summer and last until late summer. When fall begins, their leaves steal the show by turning into attractively bright orange and red colors. When planting them in your garden, avoid areas with deep shade as too much shade can actually cause their fall foliage colors to fade. Oakleaf hydrangeas thrive in hardiness zones five through nine.
5. Climbing Hydrangea

The climbing hydrangea, Hydrangea animola ssp. petiolaris, is the most distinct type of hydrangea because it is actually a vine. The climbing hydrangea is native to Asia and is also commonly called “Japanese hydrangea vine.” Native to Asia, the climbing hydrangea is becoming increasingly popular for its ability to climb up walls and other structures — even reaching up to 80 feet!

It takes a patient gardener to reap the benefits of the climbing hydrangea as it is a slow-growing plant that can take three to four years to show signs of growth. Once matured, these white hydrangeas with lacecap-like flowers will bloom that are known for their pleasant fragrance. Bloom time for the climbing hydrangea occurs from early to mid summer and it is hardy in zones four through eight.
When planting climbing hydrangeas are grown as vines, keep in mind that they need substantial support for their thick and heavy vines. Although they are one of the few flowering vines that tolerate shade, they do prefer full sun or partial shade, but never full shade. Alternatively, climbing hydrangeas can be grown as shrubs when they don’t have a supporting structure and can reach three to four feet in height.
How to make your hydrangea bloom
A common problem that gardeners have is that their blooming can be unreliable. A plant that bloomed abundantly this year, may not bloom at all the next. Here are the three main reason why your hydrangea is not blooming.
    1.   Too much shade – Hydrangeas prefer shade, but too much can reduce flowering. Bigleaf hydrangeas prefer more shade than panicle hydrangeas which prefer full sun.

2. Improper pruning – Different hydrangea types flower on different years’ growths. Bigleaf and oakleaf hydrangeas flower on the previous year’s growth so if you prune them during the fall, winter or spring, you are removing potential flower buds. Panicle and smooth hydrangeas flower on the current year’s growth, so pruning in early summer would eliminate the potential flower buds for the year.

3.  Unfavorable weather – Most hydrangea species are highly sensitive to weather changes. For hydrangea types that flower on previous year’s growths, weather conditions that damage the plant during the fall or winter can greatly reduce flowering in the summer. Damage can occur anytime before the plant is completely dormant, and most damage occurs due to freezes when temperatures drop below the norm during early fall, late spring, or winter.

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Guide to 7 Types of Hydrangeas
It’s easy to see how the hydrangea has become such a timeless flower. From home gardens to wedding centerpieces, it’s easy to incorporate these classic flowers into your decor. Use the guide below to help you identify the seven different types of hydrangeas and help you choose the one that’s best for your area so that you can enjoy their bountiful blooms year after year.  |  |  | 12  |  |  |  | 12  | 123 |  |
Image Sources
Lacecap CC Image courtesy of Ken McMillan on Flickr
Smooth CC Image courtesy of Yoko Nekonomania on Flickr
Panicle CC Image courtesy of Leonora (Ellie) Enking on Flickr
Oakleaf CC Image courtesy of Eric in SF on Wikimedia Commons
Climbing CC Image courtesy of Meneerke bloem on Wikimedia Commons

I hope you enjoyed the guest post from FTD Fresh. FTD committed to connecting people through life's simple pleasures. Whether it's sharing about how to brighten your home and garden with flowers or offering decor tips, we aim to bring together people who see beauty in the little things

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up: July 2016 Long Island Garden in Bloom!

July 2016 Garden
Welcome to my Long Island garden! The arrival of July has prompted a succession of colorful blooms throughout the landscape. While June temperatures had remained in the upper 70's to lower 80's, the month of July has delivered a warming trend with some days reaching into the upper 80's and low 90's. The perennial borders are bursting with an array of color, along with the arrival of new blooms daily. Come take a walk with me in my July garden.
(Coneflower) Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit'
July marks the appearance of Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' blooms in a multitude of colors, all on the same plant. I never knew I could get so much enjoyment from a single species of coneflower. Now that this one has become established in the garden, it has become a focal point at the entrance to the front beds.
Pollinators love Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Coneflower)
As an added bonus, the pollinators love it and the blooms are often visited by a multitude of bumble bees and butterflies.
Alium Mont Blanc Seed Head
Another plant which has given me much pleasure is Allium. This dried seed head from Allium 'Mont Blanc' even offers interest once the flower is spent, so I keep the decorative stalks in the garden bed all throughout the summer months.
Montgomery Globe Spruce and Stella D' Oro Daylily
As we walk around to the back garden beds, Montgomery Globe Spruce and Daylily 'Stella D'Oro' make an excellent combination of foliage and blooms. The brilliant blue of the globe spruce with the bright yellow blooms of the lilies complement one another perfectly.
Backyard Long View (North Side) Perennial Border and North Garden
As we follow the gardens to the north side of the property, here is a better view of the perennial border as it wraps around from the patio area to the north fence garden.
Backyard Long View (North Side) from Garden Tour 2010

Funny...I was just looking at some photos of the garden tour from a few years back and the photograph is of the same identical spot. The upper photo shows the new Arborvitae additions to the left that were planted just last summer. All things considered, the garden has remained pretty stable.

Perennial Border

Here is the perennial border as we get closer up. It has gotten to be very established over the years with a combination of Allium, Salvia 'May Night', Astilbe 'Fanal' and 'Pumila', Lamb's Ear, Hosta, Echinacea and Daylily.
Perennial Border Lamb's Ear and Astilbe
The white of the Lamb's Ear and shocking pink of the Astilbe provide contrast to one another.
Salvia 'May Night' and Sedum 'Brilliant'
Salvia 'May Night' has become a stable in the gardens. providing bright purple blooms.  It companions nicely with just about anything...
Add a little Heuchera 'Caramel' to the Mix!
including this combination with Sedum and Heuchera 'Caramel' in the south garden bed.
Backyard Left Long View
As we travel along to the southeast gardens, there is a mix of evergreens and flowering shrubs. The blue evergreen to the left is a grafted Montgomery Globe Spruce and the golden evergreen is Hinoki Cypress 'Verdoni'. It wraps into the island bed which is home to Crape Myrtle 'Sioux' (which will bloom at the end of this month and into September).
Backyard Right Long View
Here is a view from the back island bed to the western corner of the property. Prior to 1996 this entire backyard area consisted of all lawn and just a few maple and cherry trees. It was when the pool went in that year that the property started to transform, which was also the time I had started a second career in garden designing.
Lampost Planting
The lamppost seen at the end of the driveway is surrounded by Coreopsis 'Zagreb', Nepeta 'Walker's Low, Weigela 'Wine & Roses' and Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' with more of a cottage style look.
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Mix)
The blooms on the Echinacea never cease to amaze me!
North Border
Around towards the western side of the property is a combination of Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Gold Mop Cypress, Purple Salvia 'May Night' and Dwarf Butterfly Bush (which will bloom in August). There are also Nepeta and Knock Out Roses to the right.
Heuchera 'Caramel" Blooms
Heuchera 'Caramel' is blooming in July. The blooms are just an added bonus to the fascinating caramel colored foliage, which is also semi-evergreen. Heuchera 'Caramel' is a personal favorite of mine, as the foliage varies 
throughout the seasons with hues of caramel, peach and orange, depending on the sunlight and temperature. 
East Perennial Border
Here is another view of the east perennial border...
Nepeta 'Walker's Low'
along with some Nepeta blooms and a visiting butterfly moth.
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Peach)
'Cheyenne Spirit' displays more blooms...this time peach in color...
Hosta Blooming
and the Hosta 'Patriot' are producing blooms on long graceful stalks.
Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' (Orange)
Here is one last stroll by the coneflowers sporting their multi-colored blooms...
Birds Loving the New Feeder
and views of the new feeder, which has been a haven for birds visiting all day long.
Birds Loving the New Feeder
I can't seem to keep it filled enough and the birds are loving it!
This Year's New Succulent Planter
Last, but not least, I have a new interest in creating succulent planters such as this one here for the summer of 2016. It is about as low maintenance as you can get and the various species of sedum are producing blooms.
Hens and Chicks Blooming!
This Hens & Chicks planter which I made up last year is blooming profusely, which actually came as a surprise. They are thriving in the full southern exposure and the blooms are magnificent!
In a Vase on Monday! (Pardon Me Daylily, Stella D'Oro Daylily, Heuchera Blooms, Hosta Blooms, Salvia May Night and Coleus Bloom)
Cut flowers from my July garden to brighten your day!
2016 July Garden
I  hope you enjoyed your stroll through my July garden. Special thanks go out to our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it possible to see blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up.  I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Today's FlowersFloral FridaysI Heart MacroMacro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods.  Also check out What's Blooming This Week Garden Update and In a Vase on Monday at Rambling in the Garden.

For more gardening information, you may be interested in my newly published book, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer (Gardening in Zones 3-9). You can see a preview here on Amazon


Monday, July 4, 2016

Desert Flora and Landforms of Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona
Last fall I had the pleasure of visiting Arizona with its unusual flora, consisting mainly of drought tolerant cacti and desert succulents, along with its amazing terrain and unusual landforms. We traveled the famous Arizona State Route 89A, which is an 83.85-mile state highway that runs northward from Prescott Arizona, entering Jerome, then heading to the picturesque area of Sedona

Historic Route  89 to Sedona, Arizona
Route 89 was an experience in itself. The twisting, turning highway has vast changes in elevation and views of cliffs and rock formations below as the road travels up and around mountains. The sights are beautiful, but for the first timer the voyage is more like an amusement park ride, with one occasionally clutching the seat underneath them.  Once we hit the town of Jerome we saw signs that said , "I survived Route 89", which we thoroughly understood, but we glad to have had the experience!
Historic Route  89 to Sedona, Arizona
As you can see here, the terrain along the route is rugged, mainly dry and desert-like, with a combination of Cascalote Tree, Desert Ruellia, Tumbleweed, Prickly Pear Cactus and other drought tolerant plants.
Historic Route  89 to Sedona, Arizona
Here is a long view of the desert mountains with the higher elevation snow covered peaks to the right in the background. I am not used to experiencing 70 degree temperatures with snow covered peaks at the same time, so this was beautiful to see.
 Agave palmeri (Native to Arizona)
Along the way we did get to experience many of the desert plantings of the mid-west. Here is Agave palmeri, which is the largest Agave species growing in the United States and native to the deserts of Arizona. It produces fleshy, upright green leaves up to 4 feet in length, with jagged edges and ending in thick spines of 1.2–2.4 inches long. Flowers are pale yellow and green which grow on flower spikes, which can be up to 16.5 feet tall.
Dasylirion wheeleri  (Desert Spoon)
 Dasylirion wheeleri, or Desert Spoon, produces small white blooms on a 10 foot high spike, followed by fruits that mature in August. It slowly builds a trunk up to 5 feet tall. 
Arizona Barrel Cactus

Arizona Barrel Cactus blooms August-September in southern Arizona and grows to a height of 4-5 feet up to 8 feet with hooked spines The flowers are red-orange, shading to yellow and bloom in a ring at the top of the cactus.
Historic Route  89 to Sedona Arizona Watson Lake Loop Trail
On the way to Sedona is the Watson Lake Loop Trail. Located in Prescott, it is a picturesque loop around Watson lake, covering approximately 4.8 miles. The terrain varies in steepness from the rocky steep terrain of the Northshore trail to the relatively flat terrain of the Peavine and Lower Granite Creek Trails. This was one of the most beautiful and amazing sites I have ever experienced.
Historic Route  89 to Sedona Arizona Watson Lake Loop Trail
Watson Lake is one of two reservoirs at the Granite Dells, outside of Prescott, Arizona, that was formed in the early 1900s when the Chino Valley Irrigation District built a dam on Granite Creek. The 70 acre lake is at an elevation of 5100 feet and is lined with granite boulder piles that extend all around the northwest and northeast shores and line Granite Creek, which flows north from Chino Valley towards the Verde River. 
Historic Route  89 to Sedona Arizona Watson Lake Loop Trail

Historic Route  89 to Sedona Arizona Watson Lake Loop Trail

Historic Route  89 to Sedona Arizona

Deadman's Pass Trail Sedona Arizona
Once we got to Sedona we hiked the trails in Red Rock State Park to see the well known rock formations of Arizona.
Sedona Arizona
Sedona’s rock formations were formed over millions and millions of years as a result of natural sculpting by seas, sands and winds. The rock layer closest to the surface is mainly red wall limestone, which was once covered by seas and formed by layer upon layer of ancient sea shells cementing together. This layer was then subjected to wind erosion and re-submerged under another shallow sea. The red wall layer is the oldest layer of exposed rock in the Sedona area dating back to about 350 million years ago.

Sedona Arizona
Red Rock Trail Sedona, Arizona
  Many species of desert plants can be observed along the dry and rugged terrain of the Red Rock Trail.
Mexican Blue Yucca
There were many varieties of Agave and Yucca as well as Prickly Pear Cactus (as seen below). This Blue Yucca is a trunk-forming species which grows to 12 feet tall.  Its blue leaves are about 3 feet long by 1 inch wide with a sharp spine at the tip. In the late spring the blue foliage is complemented by a showy 5 to 6 foot stalk of white flowers. 
Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha) 
Native to the southwest desert, Prickly Pear bears yellow flowers in the spring and purple edible fruit.
 Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia phaeacantha) 
 Prickly Pear Cactus requires a dry, course, well-drained soil and grows in rocky flats or slopes, mountain pinyon/juniper forests and in the steep, rocky slopes of mountain foothills.
 Agave 'Blue Glow'
This is another variety of Agave which is native to the area of Sedona.  Blue fleshy leaves are tinted red at the tips on this 2 to 3 foot plant.
Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

Cathedral Rock is one of Sedona's most well known landmarks.  This towering rock formation was formed during Permian time and is a result of the Schnebly Hill formation, a red sandstone formed near the shoreline of the ancient Pedregosa Sea. It towers to 4,921 feet and is a sight to behold.

Arizona Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Sedona Arizona

While out of my comfort zone as far as naming some of these plants, I enjoyed doing the research and learning about them.  Also, being from the northeast, I had never experienced firsthand the magnificence of the stately rock formations that exist in the mid-western parts of the U.S. along with the geologic history behind them. I hope you enjoyed the tour of Sedona Arizona along with its famous landmarks and native flora. Linking with Our World Tuesday. 

As Always...Happy Gardening!


A Guide to Northeastern Gardening: Journeys of a Garden Designer Zones 3-9

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2016. All rights reserved