Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
"Do you have flowers on your Endless Summers?" That's what a colleague asks me year after year. She sounds wistful at the beginning of the growing season, irritated by the end.
That's because my Endless Summers flower like crazy, and hers rarely boast a bloom. Both of us eagerly ran out and bought the plants after their much-hyped debut in 2004. But while mine have lived up to the hype, delivering pink and violet bursts of color all summer long, hers have been a big disappointment.
"Do you fertilize them?" she asks. Nope. Haven't done it once. "Did you mix in compost before you planted them?" Nope. Didn't do that either. They shouldn't be so happy in my yard, but for some reason, they are.
I know a lot of people are very pleased with the performance of their Endless Summers, but there are some disgruntled gardeners out there as well, who complain that their plants don't bloom much or at all. My mother is one of them, although, to be fair, she says it's probably because deer eat the buds as soon as they form.
I've also heard people complain about the plants' stature, that they don't get as tall as other hydrangeas they're used to. That's probably true; Endless Summers reach a mature height of 2 to 4 feet. That's a big plus in my landscape, where plants tend to overgrow their welcome. The five Endless Summers I planted along the walk in front of the house stay petite and compact and, yes, loaded with blooms. Did I mention that? Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
I got curious about why Endless Summers perform so well for me but not for everyone. Siting appears to be key. The ideal location receives morning sun and afternoon shade. That's because Endless Summers, like all bigleaf hydrangeas, dislike hot afternoon sun. (My front yard, for what it's worth, does have morning sun and afternoon shade.)
There's a lot of great information about getting the most from Endless Summer in northern climates at Northscaping.com (http://www.northscaping.com/InfoZone/IS-0124/IS-0124.shtml).
In the meantime, what's been your experience with this plant? Has it lived up to the hype? Or are you still waiting, like my colleague? And if your Endless Summers are happy (flowering) campers, what's your secret?
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