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Hydrangea

Hydrangea aspera var. sargentiana - Sargent’s hydrangea

 

The large, bright green leaves of Sargent’s hydrangea are covered in such dense hairs that when touched they feel almost like a Persian carpet. These special leaves and the exfoliating bark of the branches make this shrub almost ugly, but nevertheless extremely fine. Few plants stand out so much from their environment. Unfortunately, winter hardiness in Finland is poor. The shrub usually freezes down to the snow line, so seldom flowers.

However, poor winter hardiness doesn’t prevent the growing of Sargent’s hydrangea, as the old plantings at Mustila show. The occasional frost damage is no problem if the species is grown mainly for its foliage and the occasional flowering taken as an added – rare - bonus. The inflorescence is flattish and the surrounding sterile flowers are pale red-violet.

 

Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris - (Japanese) climbing hydrangea

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The climbing hydrangea, with its beautiful flowers, is native to eastern Asia. In the wild it grows in lush moist conifer and broadleaf forests. It is a large vine, fastening onto support using climbing roots growing from its forks. Usually it is found either as a large mat spreading over the ground or rising high up tree trunks, fastening itself onto rough bark, usually on the shady side. After a slow start, the vines can grow a metre per year. The species has attractive white flowers in flat corymbs 10-20cms across, which have tens of small fertile flowers at their centre, surrounded by a narrow edging of showy sterile ones.

At Mustila specimens can be found particularly in Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley), bringing to the area an exotic luxuriance. They come into flower in early July, immediately after the rhododendrons. Their habit has two distinct components: the vine rises vertically up the trunk while the flowering branches curve out and downwards. With its showy, large white inflorescences, climbing hydrangea also has attractive copper-coloured autumn foliage. In winter the dry flowers add variety to the winter scene.

 

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