Passing the Test, Summer 2017 Cape Cod HOME | capecodlife.com

Photo courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich

Heritage Museums & Gardens track data & best practices with their Hydrangea Test Garden

A Cape summer would not be complete without the bouncing, bouffant images of our beloved blue hydrangeas dotting the landscape. So much are these shrubs adored, that the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce introduced the Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival in 2015 to international acclaim, drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the Cape in July to experience the blue beauties.

In 2016, Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich, arguably a national treasure in the world of horticulture, introduced their North American Hydrangea Test Garden. Conceived by renowned plant expert Michael Dirr, professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia, the garden is not only a beautiful addition to the 100 acres of landscaped grounds at Heritage, but also provides a research function for data collection that is shared nationally.

Designed by Heritage’s Director of Horticulture, Les Lutz, the garden augmented the 155 hydrangea species already inherent to their collection, by including new re-bloomer species such as, Bloom StruckTM, Twist ‘n ShoutTM and Blushing BrideTM, recently developed by Bailey Nurseries, grower of the very popular Endless SummerTM hydrangea. Additional complementary plants, a water feature and meandering pathways make a visit to the garden not only an educational one, but also a feast for the senses.

Lutz explains the appeal of these new hydrangeas that have been developed to give gardeners what they want – more blooms. “Endless Summer and these others have the genetic ability to flower on the current year’s growth, which has changed everything,” he says. He is not bashful when he describes his new personal favorite of the re-bloomer varieties, Twist ‘n ShoutTM, “It has been a really impressive variety, I’ve seen it die all the way back to the ground after 2016’s harsh winter, leaf out, have a two week delay on its initial bloom, and then continue to put out buds right up until frost.” Star Roses is another grower that has partnered with Heritage in this endeavor by providing their re-bloomer species to round out the mix. Looking forward to 2017 and 2018, the test garden will see new varieties of hydrangeas unveiled.