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Design

Designing With Hydrangeas

Fine Gardening - Issue 189
View of modern flower bed with water bowl.

With so many different forms and habits, hydrangeas are one of the most versatile shrubs to work into a landscape. They can be used in various circumstances either as the star of the show or as just a member of the supporting cast.

Related: See our picks for the best new hydrangeas

A midlevel filler (above)

Their dense, mounded habit make hydrangeas perfect for filling in the middle of a border. Many, including varieties of smooth hydrangea, quickly reach a size of 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Many of these shrubs add nice structure to a garden without getting too enormous (although check the tag to be sure of the mature size), which allows smaller perennials at the front of the border to take the starring role.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Alpengluhen’

An ideal focal point

There is no denying the flower power of hydrangeas, so they of course make natural focal points. Bigleaf types are ideal for this task, thanks to their large, bright blooms. If you need an eye-catching plant for midsummer, nothing can draw attention like a hydrangea in full bloom.

Galvanized tub of Hydrangea paniculatum ‘Phantom’ and Hakonechloa, edged in Campanula.

A thriller of a container

Dwarf panicle hydrangeas make great centerpieces of mixed containers. Their vaselike structure allows you to sneak in lower-growing plants at their base (covering up any bare legs), and their blooms are long-lasting. Starting out in early spring as greenish buds, then eventually opening to generous white blossoms, the blooms transition to pink in fall.

 

The article originally appeared as a sidebar in The Best New Hydrangeas in issue #189 of Fine Gardening.

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