Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oak Leafs

Oak leaf hydrangeas, Hydrangea quercifolia, are my favorite type of hydrangea. They are so easy to grow and so beautiful! They provide four seasons of interest and require little care from the gardener. Just my kind of plant!

I never grew oak leafs until I moved to Tennessee. While landscaping the north side of my home in the fall of 2003, I found an oak leaf I thought would fit into the foundation bed (Who am I kidding? I saw it, bought it, planted it there, simple). It absolutely loved it here! It grows next to my heat pump, but has plenty of room to spread its wings and grow in its natural form. I mulch this bed every other year with pine needles and I think that also helps this oak leaf.

For the first two or three years it seemed the oak leaf grew painfully slow. I thought it would never fill out! Starting from scratch and with all small plants can make me feel like my landscape vision will never come to fruition! Finally, the oak leaf has matured. It has not only matured, but it provided with me with 24 seedlings last fall. I probably never would've found the seedlings if I had mulched in 2006. I am sure they began growing in that year and took a bit of time to grow large enough for me to find them. I dug all of the seedlings up and planted them around my one acre plot. They are now growing very fast and some may even bloom this year.

This one oak leaf hydrangea made me realize just how much I liked the genus because of its ease of care (moist to dry soil, part sun or shade, and no pruning). I liked it so much I decided to plant three of them in my front center garden. Oak leafs can get quite large and my initial one is now about 8 feet wide by 5-6 feet tall. I thought the grouping of three directly out my front door would make a nice peak in the middle of the center garden. Right now they are very small and the center garden is off balance vertically, but I have faith the oak leafs will grow quickly and soon take their rightful spot as the climax shrub in this prominent center garden.

The first picture is of one of the oak leafs in that garden. It is not a regular oak leaf such as the initial one I started with. No, it is the cultivar 'Snow Queen'. I purchased two for mere dollars at a big box store markdown sale. Unfortunately it then took me another year before I could find an affordable third 'Snow Queen'. Jackpot last fall while shopping in another city. The nursery I visited had a good sized 'Snow Queen' hydrangea marked 50% off. Patience does pay off and I think this is the only time I have stuck to my guns with a specific cultivar in a specific spot. I can't wait to see the bloom!
The Snow Queen cultivar is said to have larger flowers. Not sure, but the above flower is pretty large as far as flowers go. Nearly a full foot long!

The above oakleaf is 'Vaughn's Lille'. I am not sure if it is going to make it or not. I purchased this cultivar at Don Shadows, but right now it is not happy and looks very different.
All oakleafs have four seasons of interest. Spring brings new leaves; which are shaped like oak trees. Late spring to early summer brings large white blooms; which persist into the summer, fall and winter. The blooms slowly fade to rose or pink or browns. In addition to the persistent blooms, oakleafs have super red fall coloring; which is mottled and variegated. As a bonus, when the oakleaf gets some maturity, the bark begins peeling.
All oakleafs like acidic, moist, well drained soil, but I have found they can tolerate dry soils once established. They do fine in sun or shade. They rarely need any help from the gardener and I do not recommend pruning them.
in the garden....


  1. Boy! These sure are pretty! I was wondering what they look like, go well up here? My pg seems to easy, like those kind of shrubs.

  2. One of my favorite shrubs and a hydrangea that doesn't dislike my clay and limestone conditions!

  3. Sounds like a good plant to me and it is pretty.

    Another hot and DRY day here in Maine, sigh.

  4. I have to agree Oak Leaf Hydrangeas are cool shrubs! We've only got two but I have several places to put more.

  5. Dawn, My sources say the oakleaf is hardy further north than the mopheads so it will grow up there. It likes a hot summer though and I think Maine fits the bill. Should try them!

    Gail, I was going to say these should surely grow in your yard. They are so easy.

    Mom, Oakleafs should catch on up there and I think you would like it. Nice shrub, very nice. Sorry it is so hot and dry. Same here. Sigh.

    Dave, Give your oakleafs about 5 years and you'll have tons to spread around. I am still thrilled with my 24 offspring! They are all doing great and so easy to grow.

  6. They are sooo pretty. Uh oh sounds like I might have to find me one to put in my garden , LOL

    Tina you have been tagged for a meme, come visit my blog for details.

  7. Oh they are so pretty. It makes me want to start learning how to do some landscaping! How long do the blooms normally last?

  8. LoL, sorry dumb question. You already answered it in your blog. It must be nice to have those gorgeous bloom hang around all season.

  9. This must be the bush I see around town! Not close enough to see the oak leaf but can see green with white blooms from street as we drive by. I have never heard of them until you and Dave mentioned them a while back...

  10. Hi Tina --pretty flowers --today I broke down and tore out the poison ivy that has a lovely relationship with my yard:) I can tear it out by the root and within weeks I find another one growing --not even in the same spot. I know they can make people really itchy but honestly the leaves are quite pretty. Last night we skipped ball practice and took the kiddos to a friend of Dan's. OH MY GOODNESS --he had peach trees that were so full of peaches --like nothing I had ever seen. The branches were so full they were hanging to the ground. I did take a picture --if it turned out okay I'll email to you. He also had a garden that was GIGANTIC and had zucchini already --his plants were HUGE --tomatoes --they were all still green but his yard was amazing. I should've taken pictures of all the flowers --if we go back soon I will try to remember my camera. The arrangement was beautiful --he had watermelon mixed in with his flowerbeds that surrounded his pool --and cucumbers that also were intermixed with his flowers. It was such a nice set up --so practical but very, very pretty. Might take the kiddos on a day trip so I better finish my laundry. Hi everyone!!! Got to love summer --just keep hoping for a nice rain shower:0)

  11. Anonymous I sure wish we could get a whole day of rain. So darn dry up here this year.

    I keep hearing about plants around pools and I wonder about that. Do you guys down south drain water from it when you close it up in the fall. Here in the north we drain it to just below the filter inlet. I have never dared to plant around the pool as my cousin had her high bush blueberries killed cause of the pool drain off. The chemicals in the water killed them.

    Dan's friend sounds like a great gardener.

    Hope you have a good field trip and don't forget to tell us all about it.

    I agree that posion ivy is a pretty plant. Too bad it has such an effect on us humans.

  12. Wish I could grow more hydrangeas here in northern IL. Annabelle grows well so I'm planting a couple more.

    Enjoying your photos.

  13. Karen, You definitely need some oakleafs in Indiana. I already did that meme and generally don't participate in them. That was the one and only I have done, though I have been tagged many times. Sorry! It was posted in March. Still blogging friends?:)

    Anonymous, Was this the friend over here near the parkway? I looked for and finally found that house. Nice area. Quiet. Sounds like an awesome garden-and way ahead of mine! My zucchini are just now 2" tall. Did you pull that poison ivy with or without gloves? I hope with gloves and I will not get all itchy when I walk by it at your house. Right now I have it all over me since I weedwhacked Mr. C's fence row out back. Lots of it there and I guess it got airborne onto me. I was in Lowes this morning when it began raining hard! Should've seen all the smiles! Did you get some? None here to speak of. If his friend needs some help with picking the peaches, I think you'd be happy to oblige?

    Mom, I have never had anything perish from pool water. Not even the grass. Many people are afraid of that but I haven't seen it. Geri has plants all around her pool too and no problem. I don't think poison ivy is pretty at all. It is $%#@. Grows on everything and LOVES gardens for some crazy reason. The birds I guess. I was never bothered by it in summer camp.

    Roses and Lilac, Thanks for visiting. I will return and explore your blog much more but pressed for time today. Lovely pics and you are not so far away from me. Our Annabelles are blooming and they are also one of my favorite hydrangeas. I love them all, but oakleaf first, then I guess the PGs, then the rest. Great shrubs for a big impact. Is the hammock to show you relax in the garden? We gardeners know there is rarely such a thing, though we all seem to have hammocks in the garden...

  14. Hi Jean --we have plants and flowers around our pool --so far they all seem okay. We don't use chlorine --we use something called Softwim --it doesn't burn the eyes and is also supposed to help prevent ear infections with pool water getting in the ears?? Not sure but thats what they say, lol. We went to the Adventure Science Center in Nashville --the kiddos had a blast. They have this pulley where the kids can actually lift a car --very cool, an active bee hive --sans the Queen --they said she died but a new one should be in there soon. So many things to climb on and crawl thru --Sidekick fell asleep on the way home:0) The highlight for Sidekick was the Ambulance with working lights and sounds that he was able to climb into the drivers seat --after much WAITING, hahahaha. It wasn't packed at all but everyone HAD to sit in that seat and pretend to drive.

    Tina --this friends garden is off exit 11 in that area --I know you would LOVE it. If I get back out there soon I will be snapping pictures like crazy for you:) He had tons of pretty flowers --but his garden really caught my eye with the SIZE of his veggies already --he has a wire fence around it to keep the deer out --I know I mentioned deer walk up in his yard. The peaches were just too cool --haven't checked my camera --I did take it with me to the Adventure Science Center though:) Lots of pictures on it.

    And, I was so happy to see we had some rain at our house when we got back:) Yeah!!!! It doesn't look like a whole lot but I said I'd be happy with a rain shower:)

    I hope you get some relief Jean --my Aunt in Pennsylvania said it is unbearable --humid and hot. They don't have alot of A/C where she is at since it's in the mountains but they are using fans and keeping windows open for relief. very unusual for that area --I mean we get hot up there but not usually this early on in the season. And, it typically doesn't last very long --we always had pretty predictable summers --warm, some t-storms, hot and then just warm. Have to get some dinner ready --Sidekick has ball tonight --just pictures but don't want a hungry boy for the picture:) See you!

  15. DP and Skeeter, You two get a special comment all of your own since I overlooked both of your earlier comments. Sorry! These are great shrubs for the landscape and are in full bloom right now. They are probably what you all are seeing all over-From Nashville to Georgia! Skeeter, these are great woodland plants and would go fine in your landscape for sure. DP, by the house or in a focal point is a good spot too.

  16. Tina, I am not planting any thing more this season! LOL, we will see if I stick to that but it is too hot and no rain down here! We had a pop up shower yesterday but only had 1/10 inch of rain which basically is nothing but since I had been watering, it does help. Downtown Augusta had an inch with a pop up shower but we had nothing. Strange how that happens but happens a lot to us...

    Anonymous, the Saint took a saw to our huge arm sized poison Ivy’s. The vines died along the tree but coming out again at the root! Darn stuff will not die. I sprayed Round-up on it and we will see what happens now. It is pretty in the fall with the bright colors. When the tree leaves are not vibrant, the ivy always seems to be... We have a similar hands-on Science place here that the kiddos would love! Heck, when we go, I have fun!

    Two bunnies are lying down under my forsythia bush. I fed them a bunny treat. I know, I know, I am playing with fire by inviting them into the yard but they are so darn cute and I just love animals! I will probably regret it but with this heat and lack of water, I am really feeling sympathy for the wild animals. This morning one was eating plums under the plum tree. I am sure that bunny had lots of liquid from the plums.

  17. Quick hello --Tina I was out your way tonight --you weren't home. I didn't realize hubby had planned to go get the boys bow worked on. Your yard is WOW --just full of life --great --the front is so nice how it keeps the house covered --a nice way to block the road --now I see what you meant in your one post. Very, very nice! Years back you could see right up to the porch --we all enjoyed peeking from the truck. Hi Skeeter --you had me cracking up --giving the bunny a treat, hahahaha. Even my hubby was laughing --he said she does know they will go tell their friends and she'll have tons of them coming over for treats, rofl. The Adventure Science center was actually pretty cool --I'd have to say almost as good as the one we went to in San Antonio a couple years back. I'd go to this one again --just not real soon -or the fun would wear off fast:) Hi Jean --stay cool --Hi Nina --your flowers are blooming --and now I see why Tina said something about cats --they have the prettiest flower on top with little whiskers sticking out --very unique flower to me --so happy you shared those seeds :0) Thanks! Hi Lola and Dawn --busy day today but tomorrow will be busier --grandma might come over and we'll be on the move again:) Love Summer:0)

  18. Hi Guys,
    Tina, hydrangea called forever summer was at wal-mart for 50% off, Jack of all trades wants to know what to add to change from pink flower to blue flower. All season maybe?
    See me tom. I have mostly pic posted, important day.
    Anonymous, school would sooooo be out tom. if it weren't for the snow days. One kid will be doing nothing by parties next week but the other has finals. Ughhh. Need a break from being on a teens rearend every morning, "Don't miss the bus!" Nite all.

  19. Skeeter, Maybe things will turn around and we'll get rain. We can only hope. It is still early. I am with Anonymous, the bunnies are spreading the word and bringing all their friends:) Are you fertilzing your veggies? When grown in pots the water and nutrients wash out so fast. Maybe add some compost to the top for mulch?

    Anonymous, So sorry I missed you! Master gardener meeting, final details for tour and a speaker on irrigation. Hubby says you'll be out this way again though so drop by anytime! Call me for the garden tour as I am sure I will love the garden! You sound so impressed. Your cleomes are blooming? That was pretty fast. You should like them. They get big fast and will come back next year no problem. Those 'whiskers' are the seed pods.

    Dawn, Forever summer is a great hydrangea. I have Endless summer and blushing bride. I love them both because they bloom no matter what. Before you add anything to your soil, get a soil test. Buying a hydrangea in the store cannot possibly tell you what color it will be in your garden. Most likely you already have acid soil and it is the acid which makes hydrangeas blue. If you don't have acid soil and your hydrangea still blooms pink, add aluminum sulfate and/or Miracle Gro for Acid Loving plants. Soil test is the best way to go first though.

  20. Tina, I used miracle grow dirt with fertilizer in it so thought that would be enough for the season. I like your idea of composting and will try that...

  21. Skeeter, Also add some time released fertilizer. The kind in little balls that takes a while to break down. Container grown veggies will need tons of nutrients. Hope it helps.

  22. I have some and will try that... Thanks