America Has Been Hydrangized! But Is That a Bad Thing?

Landscape with hydrangeas

Hydrangeas appeal to landscapers and home-owners thanks to the seasonal color they provide throughout the summer and into the fall.

I have traveled throughout the Midwest in the last few weeks, listening and speaking — but mostly noticing the plants that seem to be the favorites of landscapers and designers in that horticulturally important region. Here are the plants that appear to be the love-children of Midwest gardens.

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Hydrangeas Far and Wide

I have seen, photographed, heard about, and tripped over more hydrangeas than you can shake a stick at. From the mopheads to the panicles, from the oakleaf to the Annabelles, they are everywhere. Fewer than 10 years ago, no one had heard of a panicle hydrangea. Now they are a part of every new housing development and green spaces in parking lots. And who ever heard of the word remontant (blooming more than one season) before? It seems every mophead is supposed to flower at least twice now, maybe more, in a season.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the root of this plant’s name is hydro (did I miss the demise of waterwise gardens?) or that they can cover your front windows in a few years. People, at least landscapers and designers, have fallen in love with hydrangeas.

What Else Is Everywhere?

I didn’t realize that onions could be so popular. Around every corner, in every garden, I saw those purple heads wafting their scents. The drifts of Allium ‘Windy City,’ A. ‘Summer Beauty,’ and A. ‘Peek-a-Boo’ were wonderful, but nowhere was space not filled with A. ‘Millennium.’ Every catalog and garden store known to man has praised ‘Millennium,’ and that praise is well deserved.

Hostas have never really gone away, and in fairness to the readers, the gardens I visited were either protected by 10-foot fences or had armed militias guarding them. There were no deer. Every year I see new hostas offered, and every year I look at the celery-like spears the deer left behind in my garden. I was losing faith in the once magnificent plant; I thought the critters had won. But it is obvious that shade was meant for hosta, and the Midwest shade has been claimed by this old but new plant. As for me, I simply want to import the fence builders so I can be like those Midwesterners.

If the Midwest shade belongs to hostas, then the sun belongs to the coneflowers.

I am here to report that coneflowers are being used everywhere. The hills and dales were alive with the sound of bees and butterflies pollinating coneflowers.

Hydrangeas, Echinacea, Hosta, and Alliums were the big four, but I am sure if I was there a few weeks earlier or later, there would have been a different landscape, other than hydrangeas. Like heucheras and echinaceas, I fear hydrangeas will be like the tsunami, eating everything in its path.

America has been hydrangized, but people love hydrangeas, so who am I to fuss? I guess we go with the flow.