"Cuttings" is your source for garden updates and horticultural tips from Reeves-Reed Arboretum's horticulture staff. Check back monthly to find out what's blooming at the Arboretum, get the inside scoop on upcoming events, and learn some timely tips you can put to use in your own garden.
In the Gardens: Happenin' Hydrangeas!
July is the best time of year to appreciate hydrangeas, whose sumptuous and abundant blooms take center stage in the summer garden. Though hydrangeas are often thought of as old-fashioned plants whose pink or blue pom-pom flowers may have adorned your grandmother's garden, the truth is that hydrangeas come in a diverse array of sizes, shapes, and bloom colors, and the right one can add a beautiful focal point to just about any landscape. Here are some of the hydrangeas blooming right now at Reeves-Reed Arboretum – be sure to visit us this month and check them out for yourself!
Hydrangea paniculata 'Dharuma': Panicle hydrangeas are usually huge plants, up to 10' tall and wide, but 'Dharuma' is a dwarf variety petite enough to fit in even the smallest garden. In addition to its small stature, 'Dharuma' also has the advantage of early bloom time – at Reeves-Reed, our year-old plantings started to flower over three weeks earlier than our other panicle hydrangeas! Add superb dark green foliage, extreme sun tolerance, and bright white flowers that age to rose pink, and you've basically got the perfect garden plant.
Hydrangea paniculata 'Dharuma' in the Azalea Garden at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. (Photo: S. Edelson)
Hydrangea serrata 'Bluebird': This classic hydrangea has long been recognized as a peak garden performer, earning the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit in 1960. Its blue lacecap flowers are borne in profusion above tidy foliage that provides the added interest of great orange fall color! 'Bluebird' matures to a mid-sized shrub about 3-4' tall and wide. Though best planted in part shade, it displays impressive heat and sun tolerance and is a true garden workhorse.
The lacecap blooms of Hydrangea serrata 'Bluebird' light up the landscape. (Photo: S. Edelson)
Hydrangea arborescens: Known commonly as smooth hydrangea, this wonderful plant is actually native to New Jersey! In the wild, smooth hydrangea is usually found in shady woodland habitats, and in garden settings it thrives best if provided with evenly moist, humusy soil in a partly-shaded location. Given these conditions, smooth hydrangea grows abundantly and puts on a magnificent floral show in the summer. As an added bonus, its flowerheads are great in both fresh bouquets and dried arrangements.
Smooth hydrangea provides the perfect accent in front of the Arboretum's greenhouse. (Photo: S. Edelson)
Hydrangea quercifolia: The oakleaf hydrangea is another superb garden plant native to eastern North America. Its large, lobed leaves and sizeable flowerheads provide a bold texture in the garden, and its tolerance to sun and drought is better than that of any other hydrangea species. Blooms emerge white and age to a sumptuous rusty pink, providing season-long garden interest. If planted in sun, the oakleaf hydrangea develops spectacular fall foliage color in bright hues of red, orange, and purple. A large shrub, this species matures to 8-12' tall and wide.
The triumphant blossoms of oakleaf hydrangea provide lasting visual interest through the summer and autumn months. (Photo: S. Edelson)
Volunteer in Our Gardens:
July is a great time to garden – and we need YOUR help to keep the Arboretum looking great! Please come out and join us for a morning of fun outdoor work on any of the following Saturdays in July:
Saturday, July 6: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Saturday, July 13: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Saturday, July 20: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Saturday, July 27: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
We welcome all volunteers ages 12 and up, and are happy to provide documentation for students seeking community service hours. We ask that all volunteers wear close-toed shoes and dress for the outdoors.
To sign up, or to learn about other volunteer opportunities at the Arboretum, please e-mail Lisa Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her by phone at (908) 273-8787 ext. 2222.