Climbing Hydrangeas

Climbing hydrangeas are the subject du jour. Despite the coming attractions from my prior post, I just couldn’t help writing about them now. Climbing hydrangeas are in bloom in my garden and they are fabulous!!
Climbing hydrangea in bloom on arbor.

Climbing hydrangea in bloom on arbor in shade garden.


If you can get anywhere near a climbing hydrangea (hydrangea ssp. petiolaris), do it now while it is in full bloom. Climbing hydrangeas are absolute show-stoppers as they climb and scramble over everything. I use it to scamper up trees, over an arbor, and even to hide ugly stumps of trees that have come down. Find a local display garden or visit a botanical garden. Maybe even one of your gardening buddies has one. There is a stunning example at White Flower Farm in Litchfield, CT.
Climbing hydrangea on tree

Climbing hydrangea on tree



Best of all, climbing hydrangeas are wonderfully fragrant. This is something that’s overlooked in most of the literature. They perfume a shade garden with a soft scent as the day warms up. If you didn’t already seek out shade, this plant will draw you to it.

Find a comfortable chair or hammock, a tall glass of iced tea, maybe a book and enjoy that fragrance for a fleeting 10 days or so. After the fragrance fades, the lacecap flowers persist. They age to a soft cream to continue to add beauty to your garden. They even look attractive in winter as snow and ice cling to them.


This species of hydrangea is easy to grow. All it needs is a little shade. It’s very drought tolerant once established, deer avoid it as do pests and diseases. It flowers consistently after brutally cold winters. It even does double duty as a ground cover (but with fewer flowers when used that way). I can’t think of an easier plant to grow.  What’s not to like?


I said I would write next about what happened to my hydrangeas after last winter and will do that in a few more days.

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