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There are a few things we can always look forward to in the great British summertime: rain at Wimbledon, the constantly rising cost of an ice cream, England flattering to deceive at a major sporting tournament, and an amazingly floriferous display from your hydrangea paniculata! Hydrangeas might have a reputation for being ‘something my granny used to grow’ (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) but these are very different from the pink or blue mophead and lace-cap blossoms of their senior citizen cousins. Cones of white, cream or lime green summer flowers, most of which fade to a red or pink into the autumn, tower majestically over oval, toothed, mid to dark green foliage and woody stems.

Whatever the style or size of your garden, there is a paniculate hydrangea that will fit right in. They are very easy to look after, being one of the more drought tolerant of the hydrangea family (though please don’t put that to the test!) and able to grow in sun or shade, they have a contemporary look to suit a modern urban garden, looking great combined with black pots*, while still being perfectly at home adding colour to a classical shrubbery. Pruning is easy too, as they make their wonderful flowers on this year’s growth, so a hard cutback in winter or early spring is all that’s required. The variety ‘Limelight’ is a particular favourite and has large lime conical beacons which seem to glow magically, while ‘Pinky Winky’ has a fantastic two-tone effect, and ‘Vanilla Fraise’ looks good enough to eat, though I might still be thinking about that ice cream!

*Remember when container gardening to water, water, water!

Common Name: Paniculate Hydrangea

Botanical Name: Hydrangea paniculata

Flowering Time: Summer, into Autumn

Height and Spread: 2m x 2m

Aspect: Full sun or partial shade (moist but well drained soil.)

Hardiness: Hardy