Upper South

September, 2011
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Oakleaf Hydrangea
Among the most handsome of garden shrubs, oakleaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia, provides full, rounded plants with magnificent pointed clusters of white flowers in summer. The dark green, lobed leaves that resemble those of oak trees are 3 to 8 inches long and wide. Although certainly attractive during the growing season, in the fall they become a magnificent rich burgundy color. Often, these persist on the shrubs until December. Grow oakleaf hydrangeas in moist, acid, organic rich, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Native to eastern North America, they are hardy to -20 degrees F. Most varieties grow 8 to 12 feet tall and as wide, but there are dwarf forms, including Pee Wee and Sikes Dwarf growing to 3 feet tall and wide, and Little Honey, with golden foliage. Vaughn%%%s Lillie and Shannon reach an intermediate height of 5 to 6 feet.

Clever Gardening Technique

Garden Notebook
Yes, there is generic database software that can be adapted to garden records as well as database software specifically designed for gardeners, but sometimes there%%%s something to be said for old school ways. For myself, I print out information sheets on any new plant acquired, then keep it alphabetized in 3-ring notebooks. The notebooks are kept by category, for instance, trees and shrubs, vines, perennials, annuals, herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Once I make permanent garden markers for each plant, the plant tag that came with it is filed alphabetically in envelopes. Bottom line, it doesn%%%t really matter what system you choose as long as you have some record of what is in your garden. Certainly, a garden can be enjoyed with no knowledge of what is growing in it, but having that knowledge will help you with growing and expanding the garden in the future.

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