This drought has been extremely hard on everyone. I have lost several shrubs, namely azaleas and hydrangeas, and at least one mature oak tree. This garden in the picture borders my driveway and parking area. In this particular area of the garden lived three big beautiful white azaleas. They perished this summer, most likely from the freeze and drought combined. I pulled the dead azaleas, built the little rock wall (donations from freecycle), and planted three oakleaf hydrangeas in this area. The oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) were volunteers from a mature oakleaf hydrangea in my yard. This oakleaf was VERY generous as it has gifted me with at least a dozen baby oakleafs.
I think hydrangeas are my favorite shrub group, and without a doubt, oakleaf hydrangeas are one of the best to grow in this area. Oakleafs are able to do well in sun or shade, need not be pruned, bloom reliably every year, grow quickly, have four seasons (green leaves and lovely large blossoms which change color grace the shrub in spring and summer, red leaf color in the fall, and peeling bark in the winter) of interest and are not fussy plants. The oakleafs are somewhat drought tolerant. This year I did have problems with Japanese beetles attacking the blossoms but it is probably because the shrub was stressed or the beetles were just too hungry!
So, the loss of the azaleas (picky plants) actually brought me a good opportunity to plant something more carefree and beautiful. Now if they would only grow to four feet tall in one year! Ah, yes, that patience thing again. They will grow, it will just take time.
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