Garden Photo of the Day

A Banner Year for Hydrangeas

view of garden from back slope

Today we’re in Elie Gilbert’s garden.

I’ve been gardening for at least 70 years, but I’ve never seen a year like this for hydrangeas. Here in my Plymouth, Massachusetts, garden, we recently had one of the rainiest Julys on record, and the hydrangeas just loved it, rewarding us with both aggressive growth and a magnificent display of blossoms.

I have a large assortment of hydrangeas in both my hill garden and patio garden—lacecaps, mopheads, bigleaf (Hydrangea macrophylla, Zones 5–9), tall oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, Zones 5–9), and even a dwarf one called ‘Pia’. Although I love them all, I have to admit that the lacecaps are my favorite because of the delicacy of their flowers.

The ‘Nikko Blue’ hydrangea can be stunning, both for its intense blue color and the size of its blossoms. Most of that strong blue color results from the high acidity of our soil, so I never have to add anything to it to maintain that color. However, some hydrangeas, like ‘Pia’, always remain pink in color, regardless of how acidic the soil is. But just like other hydrangeas, they prefer an acidic soil to grow their best.

I can’t say enough about my oakleaf hydrangeas, because they offer something of interest all year long. They begin by putting out enormous oak-shaped leaves, which can often reach 10 inches in size. Then when they come into bloom, their large panicle-shaped flowers open white, then transition through several shades of pink over the summer. When fall arrives, the leaves turn a wonderful crimson color, and even after the leaves drop off, the cinnamon-colored bark on this beauty shreds off in long strips that flutter in the wind.

I can’t think of any gardener in the Northeast who doesn’t have at least one hydrangea in his or her garden. It just seems to be a part of our gardening culture.

shade garden full of hydrangeasThe hill and patio gardens with hydrangeas

garden with a variety of hydrangeasMophead, lacecap, and oakleaf hydrangeas

hydrangea with white flowersLacecap hydrangea ‘White Wave’

white and blue hydrangea flower‘White Wave’ blossom

blue and pink hydrangeas next to housePatio garden with lacecap hydrangea ‘Blue Wave’ and mophead ‘Cityline Paris’

closeup of blue hydrangea‘Blue Wave’

closeup of pink hydrangea flowersOakleaf hydrangea changing from white to dusty rose

hydrangea next to pink flowersLacecap hydrangea and Chinese astilbe (Astilbe chinensis, Zones 4–9)

shade garden under small birch treeLacecap hydrangea nestled in the shade of a birch tree

hydrangea with dark blue flowers‘Nikko Blue’ hydrangea

view of garden from back slopeHydrangeas in view from the hill behind the house


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View Comments


  1. Rebeccazone7 09/17/2021

    Love, Love, Love the lacecaps. I brought one back from Virginia one time and no matter where I planted it, it would never bloom for me. The minute I gave some away, they immediately got blooms. That's gardening for you. At any rate, yours are wonderful and that hill looks like a fall waiting to happen, but is gorgeous. I'm quite jealous of it all.

  2. User avater
    user-7007816 09/17/2021

    Absolutely gorgeous garden. One of the best of this whole series. Thank you for sharing.

    1. coastalgardener 09/19/2021

      Wow, that was really a wonderful compliment! There are so many lovely gardens that are posted. Ilook forward to seeing them every day.

  3. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/17/2021

    If you type " Ellie Gilbert" in the search box you will find a couple more of her submissions. Make sure you spell it Ellie and not Elie.
    BTW, Ellie, I adore your garden!

    1. coastalgardener 09/19/2021

      Thanks for the compliment...and for remembering that I've had several posts on this site. It was so nice of you to share that information.

  4. btucker9675 09/17/2021

    Wow - your garden is stunning. I agree about the lace caps, but all are so beautiful. Had many in my northern New Jersey gardens, but have to be very careful where I place them here in NC - the summer heat and sun will burn them to a crisp if they're not protected from the afternoon heat. Thank you for showing us your lovely property.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 09/17/2021

    Your garden is perfection! You have a great sense of garden design! Worthy of being in Fine Garden's print magazine!!!

    1. coastalgardener 09/19/2021

      Thanks so much for that wonderful vote of confidence in my garden design. It was about 12 years in the making and I'm still rearranging plants all the time...but then, isn't that all part of gardening?

  6. User avater
    pattyeckels 09/18/2021

    I cant even come up with words to say how I feel about the beauty of your gardens. Gorgeous! Spectacular! Awesome! Thank you for sharing. Being in my 70’s, theres hope for my gardens. Lol

    1. coastalgardener 09/19/2021

      Well, I wish I were still in my 70s. I'm about a decade beyond you, but I'm still out there working in my garden every day. I truly think that has kept me physically fit and mentally stable!

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