Pee Gees & Paniculatas

(Hydrangea paniculata)

Favorites: Pee Gee, Vanilla Strawberry, Pinky Winky, Limelight, Little Lime, Tardiva

Hydrangea paniculata cultivars are high-performing cousins of the mopheads and lacecaps. The paniculatas evolved from “Pee Gee” hydrangeas (a nickname for the paniculata “P”  grandiflora “G” cultivar) that have been around for a long time. These eight-to-ten-foot floral fountains drip with white flowers that turn a soft cream and rose in late summer. “Pee Gees” love sun and are some of the most maintenance-free hydrangeas to grow, especially in large spaces.

Hydrangea Days

There are several newer, smaller paniculatas that look good enough to eat like “Vanilla Strawberry” and “Pinky Winky,” both covered with pink and white blossoms. A newer paniculata cultivar and one of my personal favorites is “Limelight,” a long bloomer that buds up bright green in the spring before unfurling beautiful, white, cone-shaped flowers. “Limelights,” which are super-hardy, line the entrance to Sandwich’s Heritage Museums and Gardens, an arresting sight all summer and deep into the fall when the blossoms turn a warm rusty pink.

Hydrangea Days

For those with limited space, a good paniculata choice is “Little Lime,” which grows just three to five feet tall and is a distinctive addition to perennial borders or foundation plantings around your house. Another one of our paniculata favorites is the “Tardiva,” which can be trained into a small tree covered with snow white, upright lacy cones. A grouping of three or more “Tardiva” trees adds a dramatic touch to a landscape planting.

Climbing Hydrangeas

(Hydrangea petiolaris)

Favorites: Miranda, Firefly

For trellises, fences, and arbors, Climbing hydrangeas are sweetly scented vines with frothy white flowers and heart-shaped leaves that bloom before their showier cousins. Climbing hydrangeas take a while to establish, but once rooted, these tough performers will bloom with almost no care. At Spohr Gardens in Falmouth—a tranquil expanse of trails, gardens, and naturalized plantings open to the public—numerous trees are wreathed in Climbing hydrangeas.

Hydrangea Days
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Susan Dewey is the associate publisher and editor of Cape Cod LIFE, Cape Cod HOME, and Cape Cod ART. She lives in Centerville on Cape Cod and enjoys gardening, sailing, walking on the beach, gallery hopping, cooking with fresh seafood, and exploring Cape Cod and the Islands from shore to shore.

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