> Hydrangea aspera - trade gallon
An 8 - 10’ tall wonder (by nearly as wide) with summer lavender-mauve lacecap flowers and huge fuzzy leaves, Hydrangea aspera is not commonly found in this country. Or, perhaps it is under the wrong name. Dr. Dirr’s book on hydrangeas explores the confusion in the nomenclature of H. aspera & concludes it is hopeless to try to determine the subspecies set forth by earlier taxonomists (except for subsp. sargentiana, which this plant was originally sold to us by a reputable NC nursery two decades ago; it’s not. No trichomes.) Want foot long leaves and huge blooms? Buy a "big fuzzy hydrangea." Likes partial shade. Blooms mid-season. Our best guess from the literature is that this plant is Hydrangea aspera ’Macrophylla’ - a name that confounds taxonomy, defies common sense and sends the brain on a collision course with Grandma’s garden full of blousy, globose blue blooms. None of which is like this plant at all. Late summer as the blooms fade, the sterile sepals will reflex and often tinge pink (see photo). Zones 7-9.
> Hydrangea strigosa ’Golden Needle’ - trade gallon
A remarkable Hydrangea strigosa because ’Golden Needle’ is close to a mophead in its bloom making it totally distinct from all other hydrangeas in this species that we know. It was found by Ozzie Johnson and plant-hunting compatriots and shared with us by Scott McMahan after a plant collecting trip they took in Sechuan, China along with Dan Hinkley et.al. The name ’Golden Needle’ does not describe the color or shape of the bloom. It’s the name of the karst on which they collected it (see Ozzie’s photograph). It’s easy of culture wanting some shade and good drainage and lots of space like all asperas. Gosh it’s beautiful if you have the room. For sure you won’t find it at any nursery near you. But it’s not just that it is a collector plant. It is strikingly beautiful and will entice any true gardener who has the room. We agree with Mark Weathington, Director of the Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC who says: "Life is too short for boring plants." Have fun, it’s your life and your garden - one chance this go ’round’. Photos are of both the fresh bloom and as it ages (greeny). The correct taxonomy according to Ozzie is Hydrangea aspera subsp. strigosa ’Golden Needle’. Height to 8 feet, possibly more. Zones (7)8 - 9.
> Kawakamii Lacecap - trade gallon
We’re convinced that Kawakamii is the best selection of the various Hydrangea aspera choices available for our area due to its later bloom time than the species, although ’Spinners’ gives it a race and ’Golden Needle’ is so unique that it also deserves a place in the larger garden. The bloom usually avoids damage from late winter frosts (when dormant there is no tender new growth to freeze), unlike our experience with ’Rocklon’, ’Mauvette’ or group Villosa. And since all get big you surely want one that blooms, not just a massive foliage mound. Which is not to disparage the foliage, as it is certainly one of the striking features of any H. aspera. Blooms in July/August for us. Deciduous, large shrub to 8’ or more, for part shade in zones 7-9.
> Peter Chappell White Lacecap - 1 gallon
This is a big aspera hydrangea to 8 feet or more. It’s unique in that both the sterile and fertile flowers are white, clothed in the normal felty or fuzzy leaves of the species. Good pruning when young will build structure and give you a sturdy plant for your mixed border. If you can’t bring yourself to prune then don’t buy this plant. (I didn’t like shots from the doctor when I was a child, but got them anyway -- survived.) Difficult to propagate so we never have more than a few. (Named, by the way, for the owner of Spinners Nursery, Hampshire, UK, by the breeder Maurice Foster. We got ours from Spinners.) Deciduous. Zones 7 - 8.
> Spinners Lacecap - trade gallon
This is a selected form by Spinners Nursery near Lymington, Hampshire, England of Hydrangea aspera that blooms later than the species but before another form we also grow, ’Kawakamii.’ The flower is typical of the species, being a mauve to lavender lacecap held above large, felty leaves. Like all H. asperas, give it lots of room to become the large plant wants to be. If you have the garden space a truly handsome plant. Needs good drainage. Easily 6’ by 6’. Zones 7 - 9.