By horticulturist, Leita Lord
For those visiting southern Rhode Island mid-summer, the recurrent displays of hydrangeas are a major attention grabber. There are few flowering bushes that put on such a dramatic show! From large white, blue, pink and purple globes to pillowy pale green pyramids and blue lace-like flowers, Castle Hill Inn has many varieties of hydrangea to enjoy!
The most classic and well-represented form is the Endless Summer hydrangea. This variety sports round flower heads and can be found in all corners of our forty-acre property. Depending on the soil pH, these hydrangea flowers can be blue, pink or purple. Sometimes all three colors are seen on a single plant! Interestingly, the color of a single bush can vary from year to year, perhaps due to the presence or absence of rain. The more acidic the soil, the deeper the shade of blue.
Another round variety is the ‘Incrediball’ hydrangea. These very large white blooms grow on bushes that reach five feet high and change color from lime green to white, then taking on a pinkish hue at the end of the season. The blooms can be harvested in the latter part of the summer and dried for an ever-lasting bouquet. With flower heads as large as volley balls, these plants really live up to their name!
Climbing hydrangeas are vigorous growers with fragrant lace-like blooms that are pale green and/or white depending on the stage. If given the opportunity, these plants, as their name suggests, can climb up to 80 feet! They create an impressive privacy hedge when grown on a fence or lattice. They can also be grown as a stand-alone hedge that will form a four-foot mound.
Other fragrant lace-like bloomers are the blue lace cap and Haas halo varieties. These plants present deep blue and creamy white blossoms, respectively. Both attract pollinators en masse and have an airy feel to them as they wave their loosely formed disks of flowers above deep green foliage. The blooms of the Haas variety start off pure white and fade to cream. These blooms dry nicely on the branch, lending to their long-lasting appeal.
You don’t have to buy a ticket, but the hydrangeas at Castle Hill, which flourish in our marine climate, provide their very own variety show year after year.