A Hydrangea Here, a Hydrangea There...
So how do you use oakleaf hydrangeas in your own landscape? First, choose a selection that will best fit the space of your garden. The ones listed in the chart give a range of sizes from large to small. The bigger selections such as 'Alice' really need extra room to grow. These look especially great planted en masse along woodland edges. A medium selection such as 'Snow Queen' can find a home in most any garden. Its best traits are its size and blooms, which are held straight up and do not weigh down branches.
The coarse texture of oakleaf hydrangeas makes them well suited for use near natural stone outcrops. Rustic stone walls and paths and brick structures are also a complement. They look nice planted along fences, especially white ones that repeat the color of the flowers. 'Harmony' does very well when planted near rustic post fences, which provide support for the branches when they are heavy with flowers. Remember, too, when using oakleaf hydrangeas for hedges that they lose their leaves and will not screen out unwanted views during winter.
Excellent companion plants include broad-leaved evergreens, such as Southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) or camellias, which have deep green leaves that help highlight hydrangeas' rough-textured foliage and flowers. They also work well with ground covers such as Southern shield fern (Thelypteris kunthii); its fine-textured leaves complement the native shrub. Accentuate their fall color by planting them near red maples or sourwoods (Oxydendrum arboreum) for a riotous show.
Revered throughout the South, oakleaf hydrangeas are particularly cherished in Alabama, where they hold the title of official state wildflower. "Hydrangeas are the first plant I remember," says Eddie, a native Alabamian who grew up working in his father's nursery. "I just love them. The appearance is outstanding."
To see these hydrangeas and more, visit Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama. Aldridge Gardens is a newly opened, 30-acre botanical garden featuring the genus Hydrangea. Peak bloom times for oakleaf hydrangeas occur from late May into June. For more information call (205) 682-8019, or visit their Web site at www.aldridgegardens.com.