President's Letter - Fall 2022
Dear AHS Members,
We all experience the trials and tribulations of hydrangea gardening. Late freezes after the garden has awakened from its winter slumber, not enough rain, too much rain, deer, voles, and the dreaded Cercospora making the hydrangea leaves look unsightly. Why then, do we spend our time, effort, and hard-earned cash striving to create that gorgeous garden? The answer is simply — we love it! Whom amongst us is not filled with expectations as the first “broccolis” appear on our hydrangeas? Will that one hydrangea you planted two years ago finally decide to bloom this year? Each summer, we wait with anticipation to see which of our hydrangeas will be filled with magnificent blooms and which will not.
I thought I would ask our AHS Board members which are their favorite hydrangeas in their own gardens. A few of their answers surprised me but not all.
No surprise, Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ was a favorite of half our board. Why wouldn’t it be? You prune it in late winter, and it blooms every year on new wood. You can also take that pruned limb, stick it in the ground and then voilà, chances are you will have a new shrub.
Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ has been a reliable hydrangea for many and continues to thrill with its massive conical blooms. Another H.p. favorite is ‘Dharuma’.
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ was selected along with H. q. ‘Snow Queen’, ‘Jet Stream’, ‘Munchkin’ ‘Little Honey’ and ‘Harmony’. Ozzie Johnson’s collection of the wild Hydrangea aspera ssp strigosa ‘Golden Needle’ is a favorite for its unique hairy leaves. His Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lemon Daddy’, with its bright yellow leaves, provides a beautiful contrast next to the dark foliage of neighboring plants.
As expected, macrophylla favorites were numerous with many being serratas. Hydrangea serrata ‘Lanarth White’ is a lovely white lacecap as well as H.s. ‘Fuji Waterfall’ with its double white blooms. H.s. ‘Fasan’, ‘Miyama yae Murasaki’ (aka Purple Tiers), ‘Blue Billow’, ‘Kokansetsu’ and ‘Tuff Stuff’ made the list. Macrophyllas are the royalty of the horticultural world with most gardeners wanting at least one or more in their garden. H.m. ‘Ayesha’ with its unique spoon-shaped tiny petals is unlike other macrophyllas and is easy to identify.
With the many challenges gardeners face, remontant or reblooming hydrangeas have been the focus of many growers. I began planting Dr. Michael Dirr’s Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’ twenty years ago. I now have it in my new two-year-old garden and it continues to be a successful bloomer for me each year. His newer remontant H.m. ‘Bloomstruck’ is a favorite of many gardeners. Choosing a favorite hydrangea is difficult because we love them all. As our board members say, their favorite is usually the one they are currently viewing.
The October 24th AHS meeting will be the completion of my two terms as President of AHS. It has been an honor and privilege to be your president over these last four years. We had our challenges with COVID, however, with the help of the AHS Board and our dedicated members, we overcame them. Zoom allowed us to share our speakers with 349 members in 21 different states. Now that we have returned to the Atlanta History Center, our meetings are being livestreamed so our out of state members will continue to be able to “attend” our meetings.
AHS will be in excellent hands going forward. Jennifer Petritz has graciously agreed to become our next president. Many of you know Jennifer for the spectacular job she has done as the AHS Newsletter editor or possibly as a speaker for your garden club. Once a writer always a writer, and Jennifer will continue to contribute to the newsletter. Both Jennifer and her husband, Bill, are avid gardeners. Their horticultural knowledge and curiosity are vast. The best part is they are both delightful people! I hope you welcome Jennifer and help her as she leads our society.
I am so grateful for the kindness, help and friendships I have received from all of you. I have enjoyed every minute being president of this wonderful organization. I encourage each of you to become more involved, as it is a lot of fun!
Eva Kinney, AHS President