Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’ in early July 2011

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’ in mid-June 2018 without a single bloom

No gardener is ever satisfied. There’s always something that can be better and now is a great time to think about what has performed and what hasn’t. For instance, I have two Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Penny Mac’ in front of my garage hayracks. I planted them specifically because they were supposed to bloom regardless of winter weather since they bloom on both old and new wood. However, they have been extremely disappointing. The number of blooms has been minimal and they haven’t bloomed until late summer. Therefore, they are headed for the scrap heap and will be replaced by Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’.

Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ in late June 2018

Now I’ve had a Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ since 1995 in a bed that only receives morning sun. It blooms prolifically every year and I’ve always wondered if the fact that it faces east is the reason that the flower buds don’t freeze or that serratas are hardier than macrophyllas. Guess I’ll finally learn the answer to that question since the location for the two new ones faces south. On the other hand, I have a different serrata cultivar, ‘Rosalba’ that does face south and it has also bloomed reliably.

Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ in mid-June 2011

Hydrangea ‘Summer Crush’-baileynurseries.com

I’ve had Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ since 2005 and it bloomed quite well for a number of years but lately it has not performed well so this is another one for the scrap heap. I was assured by a Bailey Nurseries salesman that their new introduction ‘Summer Crush’ will be infinitely superior so that will be the replacement for ‘Endless Summer’. It also has the added asset of being smaller than ‘Endless Summer, growing only to three feet if that high.

Hibiscus Summer Spice ‘Cordon-Bleu’-texasandmagrilife.edu

Hibiscus Summer Spice ‘Amaretto’-texasandmagrilife.edu

I was introduced to a group of new Hibiscus cultivars from J.Berry Nursery this year when I attended the garden writers conference in Chicago. What’s exciting about them is their colors: pale blues and orange. I have a bunch of hardy Hibiscus with dinner plate-size flowers in hues of rose, white, and red but am really excited about these new ones. Many Hibiscus grow quite large but the members of this new series, called Summer Spice ®, only grow three feet high and wide, which makes them easier to integrate into a perennial garden. So, now I just have to get out there and dig some holes. I do wish it were a bit warmer but I suppose the exertion will warm me up.

Ensete maurelii with Acer palmatum ‘Viridis’

Xanthosoma, Colocasia ‘Maui Gold’ at back of driveway. Had no idea the Colocasia leaves would be twice as large.

I could be wrong but I have a feeling that frosts and winter will arrive early so it’s probably time to dig up and bring in my banana, cannas, and Elephant Ears. They winter over in the basement where they will receive a smidgen of light and minimal water, just enough to keep them alive.

What changes are you making?