American Hydrangea Society
October Zoom Meeting
Monday, October 26, 2020 7:30 PM EST (USA and Canada)
Carol Reese from the University of Tennessee
Click here to register!
How many hydrangeas can a hydrangea-phile chuck?
In the excitement of coming across a new cultivar, many of us have given it a valuable chunk of garden space and invested years of time and care, only to realize it was not worth the investment. The early trickle of new paniculata cultivars has become a flood, and deciding which are garden worthy can be challenging. We know not to trust most marketing information, where “follow the money” not “garden performance” is the mantra. Those tempting photos were probably made in a land far away where the climate is balmy and plants have their own hand servants!
Carol is not trying to sell you anything. Her recommendations are based on plants for people who are short on time and maybe just a bit lazy. In fact, her colleague, Jason Reeves, did all the work of collecting the more than 50 panicle hydrangea cultivars planted in the display gardens on the grounds of the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson TN. Some have been in the ground (in full sun, without irrigation) long enough to get a feel for their performance under a tough setting.
Carol was at least not too lazy to do the work of walking among them for the last three years. She has photographed them at their best and their worst, taking into account not just the bloom display, but also the growth habits. A particular concern of hers addressed the appearance of the shrubs as the blooms fade — noting that some age gracefully while others look as though they were attacked with propane torches.
This presentation is decidedly opinionated. It is an assessment of which panicle hydrangeas emerged as garden-worthy on just one site, reported by a brash person who selfishly expects plants that give a lot without demanding much, and that the flowering display is not the lone criteria.
To overcome the drawbacks of doing this meeting by Zoom, Carol has promised to stay lively and move through at a brisk pace, which means that she cannot possibly cover all 50 cultivars, but information on them will be assembled into a handout made available to the members.
Carol Reese is an Extension Horticulture Specialist housed at the University of Tennessee’s West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Jackson. She is a nationally-known speaker, blending equal parts gardening knowledge, natural lore, and quirky humor. Carol is the gardening and nature columnist for several newspapers, as well as a contributor to several gardening magazines. She was also the Q&A columnist for Horticulture Magazine for several years. Her B.S. and M.S. in Horticulture are from Mississippi State University, and she could also add her Phd. if she “had ever written that damn dissertation!” While there, she taught classes in Plant Materials, and co-taught Landscape Design for non-LA majors alongside a “real” landscape architect. She attributes her love of horticulture to being raised on a farm by generations of plant nuts, including a grandfather who dynamited his garden spot each spring to “break up his hard pan”. Carol’s very personal appreciation of natural lore is at least partially a result of her near daily rambles through the wild areas near her home with her motley collection of mutts, aka known as the strong-willed breed of “Amalgamations”.