by Rochelle Greayer
As we clean up the garden this weekend, I found myself repeatedly coming back to visit the Gatsby Pink® Oak leaf Hydrangea that I planted earlier this year. They are still small and too new and immature to have bloomed this year, but that hasn’t stopped them for putting on quite a show in the autumn – despite their still-small stature.
Described as mahogany red, the color is as richer and deeper than anything else in my colorful fall garden. I really can’t wait to see these mature into larger plants – they will be the star of our back garden for sure. As we raked leaves, the stem of one of the plants was broken – I have no idea if it will root in water (I figure it is worth a try) but even if it doesn’t this simple display of leaves in a clear vase on my kitchen sink amazes me.
At the moment, I have these planted against my house (the red on the black is going to be spectacular!) but am thinking to add some fothergilla nearby. Why? Because in researching the oak leaf hydrangea, I learned that this native was discovered by John Bartram.  It is also the state flower of Alabama (where he discovered it). Dr. John Fothergill of London commissioned Bartram to make the journey to Florida and the southern USA (documented in Travels of William Bartram) where he made the discovery. While this is sort of interesting what I most love is that apparently John Bartram and Dr. Fothergill were very good friends. Fothergilla (also a North American native shrub) was named for the doctor by Dr Alexander Garden who discovered it.  We always talk about plant partners and companion plants… speaking purely of habitat and physical characteristics – but I like the idea of planting them together not just because they are naturally complimentary, but because it is really like putting two old friends together.
Gatsby Pink® Oakleaf Hydrangea (pictured in this post) is a new selection by Proven Winners® that will be in garden centers this spring (2016)
Images: Rochelle Greayer