Just like their name, discussions of the Endless Summer series of hydrangea hybrids seem to go on and on and on. I am trialing the “Twist and Shout” (above) this year (I am sure a few of you are doing the same), which means that I won’t really have any results to report until next summer, when I’ll know if the plant survives the winter and produces blooms. It’s pretty, and like the rest of this group, is said to bloom on old and new wood. I’ve never grown lacecap shrubs before, just a few mopheads, a climber, Annabelle, and a couple paniculatas.
I have always been fairly successful with my hydrangeas. The one failure I had was with a very small PeeGee, and other failures that I have heard of with the original Endless Summers also seemed to involve very small plants, with the buds just a few inches above the ground. At least in this part of the world, it seems better to buy a larger, more mature plant. This may or may not go against gardening wisdom (in fact, it sounds wrong even as I type it). There is a huge mystique surrounding hydrangea survival in the colder zones; we all have our theories. Big plants work for me, and so does protecting them in some way from the winter wind.
What I don’t like about the Endless Summers is their indeterminate coloring. Add acid for blue, add lime for pink, but mostly what I see is kind of a muddy light purple, unlike my Forever Pink macrophylla (NOT from the Forever and Ever series), which starts out deep pink and gets pinker, ending up a deep reddish brown in late fall. That there is a ton of misinformation about hydrangeas online is demonstrated when you do a search for FP. You’ll find a wide range of attributes and advice, much of which is contradicted by my experience with the plant.
I guess it’s only right that hydrangeas should excite so much debate; they are distinctive, glamorous, offer many choices, and are ultra-generous with their flower show. Few other shrubs will produce and maintain blooms over such a long period of time, though I know some gardeners find them untidy.
“Twist and Shout” looks a bit small to me, but I have high hopes for it in my little urban microclimate. I will also be assessing the performance of two other hydrangeas I bought at the end of last summer: the paniculatas “Limelight” and “Swan.”
My favorite hydrangea ever though is not a shrub of any size or color: it is the climber h. petiolaris. Sure, it took a few seasons, but once it got going, look out! It now forms a continually spreading backdrop for the pond, has a lovely fragrance, and way more buds than I can count. A magnificent plant.