The Old Favorite
The oakleaf hydrangea has been a favorite for a long time. A native plant that thrives with little care, it flourishes in the shade (I've got lots) and looks great in the sun, too. It has large oak-like leaves (hence the name) that turn a lovely scarlet in the fall. Now in June, tall, showy panicles of white flowers appear.
Here it is, at left, in a sunny spot under my back porch:
And here's a close-up:
Here's more of it on the far, shady side of the pond. (The more common hydrangea at left would show even bluer flowers if I had remembered to spread iron sulphate on the ground earlier this spring. Next year!)
Finally, here's an oakleaf hydrangea in a heavily shaded spot under a magnolia tree in my side yard:
Something New: Smoke Bush (or Tree)
I'd never even heard of this one until last year when the garden columnist for the Washington Post wrote about it. This stuff can grow into a small tree or it can be kept pruned as a bush. It is striking in every season. I planted my first one last fall by the pond and its leaves turned a beautiful greenish purple and was about the last plant to shed its leaves. Now it has a reddish-green cast, and its panicles give it misty halos that create a smoky effect. (Unfortunately, the halos on the bush -- like they are with saints -- are difficult to capture in a photograph.)
I was so taken with this one that I've planted two other varieties in the front yard.
An unexpected new love! Almost as exciting in the garden as it is in -- you know -- "real life."