Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea Blooms Are Back - July 2023

Last year, we had just ONE tiny, white bloom on ALL of our Oakleaf Hydrangeas.  It was a bloom on one of the dwarf Munchkin varieties.  The other ones?  All taken by the dang rabbits the previous Winter.   In Summer 2021, we had our first REAL set of blooms on these things (that were planted in Summer 2020).    That makes this our fourth growing season (2020, 2021, 2022, 2023) and the plants (knock wood) have rebounded from a tough battle with the dang rabbits.  

Over those years, I've been able to 'get to know' these and the kind of care they need - at least when they're young.  As many people know, Oakleaf Hydrangeas bloom on 'old wood' - which means that THIS SEASON - after these blooms decline, the shrub will put up some new stem growth.  It is THOSE STEMS (from this year) that will lead to blooms NEXT YEAR.   How did I help keep those important stems in tact all year?  With Chicken Wire cages starting last Fall and through the Spring here in Zone 5b.   Here's a post showing all the Chicken Wire rings that I set up around these to protect them from those dang rabbits.  

A little bit over a month ago, we were seeing the first signs of the 2023 blooms emerge with these green, bumpy tassle-like things on the tips of the Oakleaf shrub.   One-month-or-so later, those tassles have grown up to feature a tall, upright almost pyramidal panicles of white flowers all over the tips of the shrub.  See below for a few photos showing off the Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas.  There are six in total here - two Munchkin, four traditional Alice Oakleaf Hydrangea shrubs. 

Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas In Bloom

Alice Oakleaf Hydrangeas In Bloom

A few other things to note here:  First....I've 'back-planted' these deciduous flowering shrubs over the years.   Why?  Because of this advice from Amy Fedele at Pretty Purple Door who shared what she called an 'unpopular opinion about evergreens' - where she recommends backing flowering shrubs with evergreens so there's *something there* when the leaves drop.  

A few years back, I dug these Hydrangeas up and moved them out from the fence.  Then, over the eyars, I've tucked in a few small, upright Hicks Yews behind these.  Also, in the late Fall of 2021, I planted three tiny (maybe 1/2" caliper) Exclamation London Planetrees right along the fence that I intended (and still do) to pleach into some boxes (like they have at Disneyland).    

Second, some of the other perennials have done well and continue to get established.  In particular, the Butterscotch Amsonia is doing well here and filling in that gap in front of the Hydrangeas and behind the Astilbes.  

And, finally...the purple Wave Petunias that I used as bedding plants have done their job - filling in that blank space in the bed while providing a little bit of color and blooms to this area.  

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