Plant of the Week: INVINCIBELLE LACE™ Smooth hydrangea

Years ago, we carried a plant called White Dome®. It was a beautiful Hydrangea arborescens and a great performer in the landscape. The only problem? It was a lacecap, and people didn’t quite get it. They thought that hydrangeas had to have big mophead flowers. So we discontinued it.

That’s a shame because the lacy elegance of lacecap blooms is delightful and really elevates a landscape.

But now we think the time is right to reintroduce a lacecap version of our native smooth hydrangea. There’s been a movement toward more naturalistic design, and a lacecap like Invincibelle Lace™ fits that nicely.

Invincibelle Lace™ has distinctive purple florets that echo the dark ruby coloration of the stems. Don’t eyeroll me on the stems – these are really cool. They’re sturdy enough to hold the flowers up without flopping yet flexible, so they sway gracefully in the wind. It’s a stunning effect in the winter.

This is an ideal hydrangea for mass planting. You’ll enjoy it in bloom and covered in winter frostiness, and our pollinator friends will enjoy the exposed fertile florets. The gardening world is ready for a lacecap H. arborescens, so let’s make it happen!

Invincibelle Lace™ grows 4-5′ tall and wide and is hardy in USDA 3-8. It will grow in full sun or part shade.

Pantone Colors of the Year

So, a few weeks ago, Pantone released a pair of colors for 2021. Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (otherwise known as yellow.) Honestly, Illuminating reminds me of the kind of color labels they used to give sweaters in the catalogs that came to my home. “Hmmm…what color do I like, burnt toast? mudpuddle? trinket?” But seriously, at least this year, we can actually pair these colors with plants! Here are some suggestions from our catalog:

Show Off Starlet® Forsythia – this early bloomer, and really any member of the Show Off® series will illuminate gardens with vibrant yellow flowers.
Arctic Fire® Yellow twig dogwood’s stems are the perfect shade of soft yellow.
Blues Festival® St, John’s Wort – it could almost be argued you have both colors on this plant! Yellow flowers and blue/gray foliage.
Black Cat® pussywillow’s soft catkins are really the ultimate in natural gray coloration.
And okay, I had to dip into annuals for this one: Silver Cascade® dusty miller – but it’s a nice gray, isn’t it?

Last year we really had to work hard to come up with examples of navy plant material, but this year we could go sunny yellow for days! But what I really love is Pantone Color Institute’s Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman’s statement about why she chose them:

“We need to feel that everything is going to be better, it is something essential for the human soul. In a context in which people seek to strengthen themselves with energy, clarity, and hope to overcome a situation of sustained uncertainty, encouraging and full of life tones satisfy our search for vitality.”

I can get behind that. – Natalie

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