Friday, June 22, 2012

Hydrangea Happenings

Our hydrangeas just look amazing this year. Hydrangeas aren't exactly difficult plants to maintain but there are definitely a few steps you can do to make them perform better.

There's nothing more frustrating then seeing an old church patch of hydrangeas that have been cut back to the same point for the past 60 years and are just overflowing with dead canes. I've seen so many of those here in south Brooklyn lately, I need to post some pictures at a later date. Any dead canes should be removed in late winter/early spring. Ours were removed closer to late winter this year but I'm blaming all of the early leaf out on that.

One of the most important thing about growing hydrangeas is knowing which type of hydrangea you have. Different hydrangeas require different pruning times since some will flower on new wood and others will flower on old wood.

Hydrangea macrophyllas and Hydrangea quercifolia both bloom on old wood. Macrophylla makes up the mophead and lacecap hydrangeas. While quercifolia has big oak shaped leaves. Hydrangea arborescens and has greener stems and blooms on new wood. Hydrangea paniculata also blooms on new wood so you can prune at any time really (just don't cut off all the new blooms once they develop).

Oakleaf hydrangeas are the most forgiving of the group. They better toleration dry soil and I really think they have the best fall color of the group. People forget to prune arborescens all the time and they eventually become these green woody messes. I'm also not crazy about their gigantic blooms. Mopheads have been one of my favorites this year. Lady in Red hydrangea has impressed me with its red stems and decent fall color, but the blooms have been incredible this year.

It is true that the pH does affect the coloring aspects of the flowers but different cultivars do tend to lean towards certain colors. Hydrangeas do best in part shade since they tend to wilt and burn in full sun. The runners can be annoying so try to cut them off in the spring before you end up with 5 small plants around it.

In the meantime I have some pictures I took of these babies during our New York heatwave. Its been about 100 degrees for the past two days so these hydrangeas have been wilting like mad.

 Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf hydrangeas

 Lacecaps in both pink and blue.

 Variegated lace caps

 I wish I knew which variety mophead this was. They've been very purple for the past two years.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake' is another one of my favorites. The green in the flower and the doubles are just so nice.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Urns

 Geranium 'Crocodile'

Our summer urns at the park act as a way to showcase some weird varieties of plant in small quantities. Whatever we put in usually has to take the sink or swim approach as we want this area to always look good. Its fun to trial new plants and while everything we ordered for these didn't come in this year, I'm still very excited to see how they do.

 My version of the summer urns with some fancy begonias, lotus vine, sweet potato, alocasias, gernaium and angelonia.

My co gardeners version with Cynara, alocasia, salvia, million bells, oregano and a million other things that will need to be thinned in a month.

I'll post some updates as they fill in. It's amazing how far these plantings always progress.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Annuals

"Steph! You're alive! "

Oh how I hope there was someone out there who has actually been reading this regularly. I haven't had too much posting time lately. I'm blaming this on three factors, work, fire spinning and my fiance. Spring is here so it seems like there is a fire night every other day here in the city. I've also been trying to get as much practice in before everyone leaves for some sort of summer vacation. My fiance is leaving for Maine for work for the next two months so I've wanted to get as much time in with him before his departure and lastly with work I've been pulling out bulbs and putting in annuals.

Annuals went fairly smoothly this year. Some of our other staff worked on pulling bulbs and I was able to get the rest out. I'm not always entirely excited when I have others help with bulb pulling. There is nothing more annoying than having some of last years tulips show up in this years formal tulip planting. Tiptoeing through the tulips is never a good time and if you do miss one, its better just to cut it off.

I'm glad that no one broke any irrigation lines trying to get the bulbs out this year. Improper use of pitchforks last year led to a whole bunch of repairs. Unfortunately I noticed a bunch of bulbs still in when I started putting in the annuals. It looks like I'll be roto tilling for fall planting.

It rained quite a bit while we were doing the summer planting, our irrigation pump went this spring so the rain was definitely a life saver. Last year most of our annuals had establishment issues because of too much rain. Thank God that didn't happen this year. There's nothing more frustrating than starting off with mildewed and rotted plants before you even get them into the ground. So far everything has been taking and I can see some differences in size every morning.

Work is paying off.

 Cute little bed by the Shake Shack. Purples and oranges were the goals here. You'll notice it more when everything is in flower/fruit.

 One of our big annual plantings. I can't wait for these to fill out.

 Canna 'Phasion'

 This area is going to be so colorful once the Amaranth and Lantana fills out.

 Purple themed planting by the playground

Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler'