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New Shrub for the Paisley Garden

April 18, 2010

hydrangea 'Claudie' I have a new shrub! Yay! This is a hydrangea macrophylla ‘Claudie’. I’m really not sure how this particular shrub came home with me, but I like it.  Actually, I don’t even know why I like it. More information on this variety can be found here and here. It was the only one of its kind at the nursery.

Claudie will be planted in the widest part of the paisley garden, between the stick which sweet peas will, hopefully, grow on and the lilac shrub. I went to the nursery to find a shrub to fit the location. I was looking for a flowering shrub that would be happy in part shade and grow anywhere from 4-8 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. Claudie fits these requirements.

I didn’t particularly want a hydrangea, but they were on the list of shrubs to consider. I’m interested in other shrubs, like rhododendron, mountain laurel, purple beauty berry, viburnum, roses, and variegated weigela, but not everything on my wish list is suitable for the intended location. I also wanted to browse and find out what else was available.

I’m sure the chain stores have much better prices, but I like the local nursery. They grow about 80% of their plants, themselves. Their plants cost more, but are a bit larger and healthier, and they’re accustomed to the local climate. Trees and shrubs come with a one year guarantee and assistance in diagnosing and correcting any problems. The employees are friendly and helpful.

Really, though, I’m not a fan of lacecap hydrangeas, and the color, mauve, doesn’t excite me. Even the huge balls of flowers on other types of hydrangeas don’t excite me. My preference is for bold and dramatic colors, themes, and designs. Claudie won’t even add to the display of autumn color. Perhaps it was nothing more than an impulsive choice, after browsing for an hour with a doting husband and a wildly energetic and free-spirited three year old who had her own agenda, but Claudie seemed to call out to me.

I knew I didn’t want the same hydrangea that several neighbors have, a very pretty peegee type. There are also a couple of hydrangeas nearby that look like large perennials instead of shrubs. I didn’t want one of those. Claudie is the type whose color will vary depending on the acidity of the soil. Higher acidity levels produce flowers that are more blue. Less acidity gives pinker flowers. So, the actual color will be a bit of a surprise and may change the first couple of seasons as Claudie settles in to my garden. I’ve seen instructions for influencing the plant to produce the desired color, but I probably won’t bother, at least not until the garden fairy is ready for science lessons.

I did find Claudie’s structure interesting. The branches definitely seem to grow stronger towards one side, but they have a nice form. My best guess is that Claudie came home with me because my inner designer recognized that a shrub will be a more permanent fixture in the garden and probably outlive my preference for the bold and dramatic.  Claudie is likely to be a star on her own, but also provide a good background for the more dramatic or subdued themes, as my interests change.

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