In the Spotlight

tolly-beckWritten by Tolly Beck
Tolly Beck is the horticulturist at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Westchester County. She was formerly a horticulture educator for New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland, NY.


   Hydrangeas, a beautiful group of flowering shrubs, are about to brighten our gardens with their colorful blooms. Lasdon’s Memorial Garden has four species that are often found in home gardens and landscapes. The most popular hydrangea species is the bigleaf, mophead, or florist hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla). These are the hydrangeas with the large round balls of primarily blue and pink flowers. They grow best in sun to part shade.  A newer cultivar “Endless Summer’ continues to produce flowers throughout the summer.

   The panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) are another landscape favorite, producing 6-8” long panicles of creamy white blooms in midsummer. As the flowers mature, many will often turn various shades of pink. Panicle hydrangeas require several hours of sun.    

    Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) are one of two native species. They produce large panicles of creamy white flowers that do not droop, but grow upright in more of a cone shape. The common name of this native species comes from the fact that their leaves resemble the shape of oak leaves, having a very different appearance from the usual hydrangea foliage. A bonus is that the oak leaf shaped leaves turn a beautiful burgundy, orange red in the fall. The oakleaf hydrangeas usually bloom in late spring through early summer. They like full sun in the morning and some light shade in the afternoon.  

    Another native is the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). The very large rounded white/light pink blooms, sometimes 10” in diameter, appear in June throughout the summer. This native is known to bloom reliably even after very cold winters as it blooms on new wood. The smooth hydrangea can be grown in sun to part shade. 

   Whether you come to Lasdon to walk, shop, picnic, or attend one of the July Music in the Park concerts, be sure to stop by the Memorial Garden to see the beautiful hydrangeas in bloom. The Memorial Garden is the first garden you see in front of you as you come through the green entrance gates. Make a right at the top of the steps and follow the path to the hydrangeas. You may just find a favorite that you would like to include in your own garden.