Wakefield Estate's Hydrangeas Put on a Splendid Show

What's in bloom in at the Wakefield Estate in the lazy days of summer? HYDRANGEAS! The Genus gets its name from 'hydor' meaning water and 'aggeion' meaning vessel in reference to its cup-like fruit.The Wakefield Estate has a wide variety of hydrangeas - 'Annabelle' with its big pom pom flowerheads, Oak-leaf hydrangeas with gigantic torch-like flowerheads and characteristic leaves, and the French hydrageas (Hydrangea macrophylla) some with their signature mopheads and others with irresistable "lacecap" flowers, a magnet to all different kinds of bees. They create a fabulous display in July and August on the Piazza Terrace of the estate and will suprise and delight you near the Brook Garden. For more information about these wonderful plants, scroll down below the photos.


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Hydrangea arborescens, aka Smooth Hydrangea

Hydrangea arborescens (common name = smooth or wild hydrangea) a loosely branched deciduous shrub, typically 3 to 6 feet but sometimes up to 10 feet tall, giving it its name "arborescens" due to its similarity to a small tree. This plant is happiest grown in average soil and part shade. Its best know cultivar 'Annabelle' is known for its gigantic white pom pom flowers (corymbs). Somewhat an "old-fashioned" shrub, it is often found planted in more traditional gardens or at historic properties. A newer cultivar, 'Pink Annabelle,' is a showstopper, with its abundance of pink flower clusters (although the flower heads are much smaller than the original.) Blooms occur on new wood, enabling these shrubs to be pruned close to the ground in late winter to revitalize them. It also encourages more vigorous stem growth and best form.

Hydrangea quercifolia, aka Oak leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia is commonly known as Oak leaf Hydrangea because of its large, 3-7 lobed, oak-like, dark green leaves that occur on its upright exfoliating branches. A handsome multi-stemmed shrub that grows easily in rich border beds in part shade or full sun, it should be sheltered or protected in the winter as it blooms on old wood and flower buds (set the summer prior to their bloom) can be knock off or die during harsh winters. The mature plant is 4 to 8 feet tall with pyramidal shaped panicles of white or pink flowers in summer.

Hydrangea paniculata, aka Panicle Hydrangea

Essentially a tree-form of hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata is a vigorous, upright and rapid growing decidous shrub that can top out at 15 feet or taller. It prefers rich well-drained soils in full sun to part shade and can be trained as a small single trunk tree, but is best grown as a large, multi-stemmed shrub. It one of the most winter hardy of the hydrangeas but also thrives in urban conditions. Its bloom occurs on the current season’s growth and can be pruned as needed in late winter to early spring. Thinning the plant helps produce larger flower panicles, but they will sometimes weigh down the branches when in full bloom.

Hydrangea macrophylla, aka Big leaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea macrophylla, also known as big leaf hydrangea, is one of the most popular species of hydrangea as newer cultivars have been developed to ensure frequent and plentiful blooms, even on new wood. Notorious for not blooming if gardeners timed their pruning cuts wrong, these newer cultivars such as 'Endless Summer' and 'Limelights', have allowed gardeners to fall back in love with this previously frustrating and fussy plant. A deciduous shrub with a rounded habit that, typically grows 3-6’ tall and as wide unless damaged by harsh winters or pruned smaller. More and more cultivars are being developed to accent this plants lacecap and standard flower shapes, and to emphasize it colors which vary from pink to blue and green.

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