Hydrangea in bloom - photograph © the AuthorThe panicled Hydrangea may be slow to leaf out in the spring, compared to other popular shrubs for the northern garden. Once it gets started, however, Hydrangea paniculata puts on an everchanging show until the snow falls… and beyond.

(The photographs here are of one of my own hydrangeas in the last days of summer. Lovely, isn’t it?)

It’s a hardy old-fashioned shrub that can easily be trained to a standard — the shape of a small tree, with one central stem — and it’s very tolerant of pruning at most times of the season.

From a mass of lush dark green foliage, the shrub blooms with loose cone-shaped clusters of small white flowers that are intensely attractive to beneficial pollinating insects, such as honeybees.

As the flowers age, the white takes on a delicate pink hue, darkening with the first frosts to a lovely dusty-rose. The flowers have the added bonus of drying well and retaining their colour for off-season bouquets of dried flowers.

“PeeGee” hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata grandiflora) is the most common cultivar but many lovely varieties are readily available (you can find very good prices on Amazon, believe it or not, if you can’t track down the shrub of your dreams from local growers) and equally well suited to my own tough eastern Canadian climate. Winters don’t seem to phase this hardy but handsome shrub, and that’s something every cold-climate gardener will enjoy.

Hydrangea in bloom - photograph © the Author

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