French hydrangeas look great in generous sweeps, but if you really want to make your borders sing, pair them with hostas in the foreground. Both love partial shade and plenty of water. Three can’t-miss choices are ‘Guacamole’ (large, avocado green leaves with dark green margins), ‘Patriot’ (dark green leaves with creamy white margins), and ‘Halcyon’ (considered by many to be one of the best blue-foliaged hostas). For real impact, try ‘Sum and Substance,’ a chartreuse green hosta that grows nearly 6 feet across.
Other pairings: Use such evergreens as camellias and purple loropetalums as backdrops. Ferns and variegated monkey grass work great in the foreground.