Fire Light Hydrangea - Planted Front Porch - May 2023

I've continued to make progress on my #3 priority on the 2023 to-do list:  the front porch bed.  Most recently, it was planting of five very small (1 gallon) Green Velvet Boxwoods that run from the new Triumph Elm to the property line and (will) create some structure in the bed.  Earlier this month, I laid out a bit of an overview of the plan up there - including what I wanted to plant.  In that post, I listed the plant material required. Here's where it stands after the Boxwoods:

The next item on my list is solving for that Hydrangea. I have three Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas up there that have been doing...umm...just fine. One of them died, but the other ones haven't been awesome. Perhaps that's from the Norway Maple. Perhaps not. But, close-by...the two Limelight Hydrangeas have been fantastic.

So, imagine my intrigue when I came across this plant tag at the nursery for something called "Fire Light Panicle Hydrangea".  See below for the Proven Winners tag:

It is a 2-gallon nursery container from the orange big box nursery:


That tag shows red(ish) blooms.  That's interesting, right?  Here's what Proven Winners has to say about the Fire Light Hydrangea:
Fire Light is the standard to measure all panicle hydrangeas! We developed this easy-to-grow, reliable panicle hydrangea in Michigan, selecting it for its huge, full flower heads and sturdy, strong stems. Blooms emerge creamy-white and age to a vivid red for lots of summer color.
That sounds A LOT like Vanilla Strawberry.  Here's what ours looked like color-wise last year.  Rusty reds.   


One of the things that the Vanilla Strawberry varieties do is sort-of 'flop over'.  See this photo.  The Fire Lights - at least per the label - don't do that.  

I decided to buy one and pop it into the spot in the front - behind the boxwoods.   You can see it in the photo below.  Along the back, there are two Vanilla Strawberries.  Then...the small Fire Light.  Followed (at the top of the photo) by the smallest Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea.  
 

One other thing to note in the photo above:  I have divided and placed the Karl Foerster grasses in behind the boxwoods and in front of these Hydrangeas.  They are staggered to fill in the gaps between the Hydrangeas.  There are three of them along with the existing Totem Pole Switchgrass that is planted along the far edge

I'll watch them this year and see what works best.  I'm wondering if the Fire Lights are actually the right plant - no flopping, but all the color - and that if the one works out well this year, a full replacement of the other three could be in the works.

Here's where it stands after the Boxwoods and one Hydrangea"
My plan is to get up to Northwind Perennial Farm soon and try to bring home either the grasses and/or the Allium to plant in the bed.  

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