In the woodlands of the Deep South grows one of the finest hydrangeas in the world, one with a truly Southern soul. Beginning in late spring and continuing through early summer, the white blossoms of oakleaf hydrangeas ( Hydrangea quercifolia) illuminate the forests. Their creamy spires rise up and wave in the wind, welcoming blue skies. Though the blossoms would be enough to satisfy most, these elegant deciduous shrubs offer something special throughout the year and deserve a generous place in your garden.
A Show for Every Season
One of the best things about oakleaf hydrangeas is that they perform in winter, spring, summer, and fall. When the days are blustery and cold, the cinnamon-colored peeling bark adds a bit of warmth. As the light lengthens, richly textured, oak-shaped leaves emerge bright green to greet spring. When the weather warms, cone-shaped blooms appear when few other shrubs are flowering. Its blossoms continue to fill the air with clouds of coolness to lessen the heat of summer as the mercury soars. Finally, autumn arrives, and the leaves slowly begin to turn brilliant reds, oranges, and maroons. For weeks, they salute the fall with a kaleidoscope of colors.
Hundreds of Hydrangeas
Selections of oakleaf hydrangea have proved more popular than the species itself. Each has its own merits, but all are great in the garden.
'Snowflake' may be the most popular. With its impressive size and large flowers, this shrub certainly makes a strong statement. When the blossoms emerge, they're a pale green, though they gradually turn white. As the flowers mature, they arch over and slowly fade to a rosy pink. New blooms continue to form as the older ones fade, creating a nice multicolored effect that lasts for weeks. The flowers eventually turn a rich, warm brown as the summer wanes.