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Heritage’s hydrangeas

L to R: Matt Condon, Ryan McEnaney, Dr. Michael Dirr, Ellen Spear, Les Lutz cut the ribbon to officially open the North American Hydrangea Test Garden. For more information on Heritage’s Test Garden, visit Photo courtesy of Heritage Museums & Gardens, Sandwich

When asked what Heritage envisions visitors will learn from the new demonstration garden, Lutz says that he thinks the average gardener will learn how to use these new hydrangeas in a landscape setting, by incorporating them into a space with other plants. “We designed it from a designer’s perspective, pairing with other companion plants.” Those companion plants include day lillies, monardia, coneflower, and another of Lutz’s favorites, caryopteris, providing silver foliage, and an intense blue flower that continues into the fall when others have given up. Pink and white astilbe, hostas and ferns are used in the shadier areas.

“One of the best ways to get the look professionals achieve,” says Lutz, “is to use more than one of the same variety of plant – massing. Massing is more effective than a single plant, and repeating that throughout, carries your eye and creates movement like a wave through the garden.” According to Lutz, texture and variation, give visual interest to the garden as well; like the smaller leaves of catnip juxtaposed against the larger leaves of hydrangeas.

Lutz says  a transition of light throughout the day is optimal; essentially morning sun and afternoon shade. The heat of the day can leave the shrubs looking wilted and frail, but can be effectively countered by making sure the soil is a well-composted mix and ideally incorporates a drip irrigation system. For those aiming for the most robust and plentiful season of blooms, this extra effort is more than worth it.

After the first year with the revolutionary test garden, Lutz says they have learned some things already. “The realization or understanding that these new re-bloomer varieties can tolerate our New England climate better than a lot of the older varieties is very important to the average gardener. I think if people come check out the garden they will be amazed at the varieties and the variation of color, size of mop-head, and incredible beauty these plants can offer.”

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