I was sorting through my flower photos from the 2019 gardening season, looking for shade-lovers to share today. All I could find were photos of my hydrangeas.
The largest hydrangea in each of the photos in this collage, is the same flower! The top left photo was taken in early June, 2019, and the one on the bottom right was taken in late August, 2019. Here it is January of 2020, and the dried-out blossoms are still on the bush.
Hydrangeas aren't cheap to buy, but when you take into account how long the blooms last (months!), and how long the plant lives (years) I'd say they give you a very good return on your investment.
One of the many reasons that I love living in the Ozarks, is that I can grow mophead hydrangeas here. They love the mild winters and wet weather. The only challenge I have with them is finding shady spots that aren't too close to the remaining black walnut trees.
In 2018 and 2019, I filled all of those spots with as many hydrangeas (and hostas, and bleeding hearts) as they would hold. Most of them, especially in 2019, were purchased on clearance. They are all planted under the eaves of the tea room and its' garage, and we don't have rain gutters on the roofs yet. 2019 was such a wet year that despite how thirsty hydrangeas are, I didn't have to water those beds once all summer.
I ran a soaker hose under the mulch in the hydrangea beds, because they'll need extra watering from time to time. Every summer won't be like 2019, after all. I also expect to do some light pruning on them in coming years. But outside of mulching after planting, a bit of light weeding and a dose of Holly-Tone fertilizer, I didn't do a single other thing with them in 2019.
I'm eagerly looking forward to the 2020 gardening season. As the old saying goes "the first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year they leap!"
For many of my shade-lovers, 2020 is their leap year.