Success With Hydrangeas by Lorraine Ballato

Success With Hydrangeas: a gardener's guide by garden writer and speaker  Lorraine Ballato was recently released by B and B Publications.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading my review copy over the past two weeks. And, after becoming blah about Hydrangeas over the years, I'm fired up again because of Ballato's enthusiasm for these garden mainstays.

Lacecap HydrangeaMicrophylla 'Kardinal'
Here in zone 7 we are in an ideal situation to grow hydrangeas successfully. Our soil is good and our rainfall is bountiful. I have commented that since Hydrangeas have hydra (water) in their name we automatically understand part of their requirements for happiness.

"Success with Hydrangeas" is a 190 page, 7 by 10-inch, paperback that is loaded with useful, practical information. There are plenty of illustrations but it's a lot more than a picture book.

H. paniculata 'Quickfire'
Ballato provides the botanical and common names for the ones you'll find on the market. Macrophylla is the most common variety. Within that variety you'll find lacecap and mophead flower forms in white, blue and pink.

Their unique needs in pruning, water, fertilizer and problem solving such as winter kill are all addressed in a way that builds confidence for beginning gardeners.

You can identify which plants will suit your garden. H. Petiolaris, Japanese climbing, doesn't do as well in very hot climates and enjoys part to full shade in all gardens.

H. arborescens, smooth woodland hydrangea "old reliable", is native to the Eastern US and includes everyone's favorite 'Annabelle' which spreads by suckers.

H. quercifolia Oakleaf
For sunny spots in cold climates, Ballato recommends H. paniculata or pee gee.

Oakleaf, H. quercifolia is an understory variety for the edge of shade with dappled sun. (The book has convinced me I need a couple of these for a special place that has challenged my talents so far.)

Hydrangea mixed container
Part Two is plant care. You will appreciate the trouble shooting advice throughout the book and especially in Part Three where the book covers specifics of fungal and bacterial disease, insects, animal and weather damage.

Part Four is where Ballato's landscape and garden writing experience really show through to illustrate how many ways and places Hydrangeas can be used in your home garden beds. I don't think I had ever considered Hydrangeas as likely contenders for container plant combinations before.

This is a book you'll buy and keep for reference throughout your gardening years. Of course, you'll end up loaning it and never getting it back but it's only $20 - $25 at online booksellers so you can easily replace it.
Plant Addicts root hydrangea cuttings


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