Annabelle's my Girl
What can you say about Annabelle? She's perpetually popular. Very low maintenance. Gets better every year. She even ages well. Her gorgeous white blooms gradually age to lime green, then to a lovely mauve by autumn. If you're planning an event (she's perfect in July in Connecticut) she makes a lovely cut flower very popular with brides. Just give her a couple of years to mature to her full beauty if you're thinking ahead. As with many perennial shrubs they "sleep" the first year, "creep" the second, and "leap" the third. They should be cut back in late winter before they begin to show green. This variety of hydrangea can be cut to within a foot of the base but be sure to do it when it's still asleep. In the northeast she likes a moderately sunny location (mine gets afternoon sun so she needs a good drink on a hot day as she will faint!) She gets a good layer of composted manure in the spring, light fertilization while she's forming buds. One stem would look lovely in a silver julep cup or gravy boat. Check tag sales for low, wide inexpensive containers. Contrary to popular myth, woody stems should not be smashed to retain freshness of the bloom. Cut the stem on an angle with a clean, very sharp knife, early in the morning and keep the stems in cool, fresh water in a cool area. Don't forget to add flower food to the water. Plant Annabelle hydrangea and enjoy her every summer!