Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ is a beautiful shrub. Large white balls of flowers on long stems from the end of July and into August.
But this variety of hydrangea has a reputation for flopping due to the size of the flower heads. Wire supports help but they don’t look great.
A natural support is box hedging. I was inspired by the photos of Gina’s garden on Instagram to plant Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ in a front garden that has borders edged with tall box hedging.
The hydrangeas have established and look stunning. Billowing clouds of white flowers contrast beautifully with the green of the box hedging. Some hydrangea stems hold others up as they grow densely together. Others flop gently on to the box hedging.
As the hydrangea flowers fade, they turn a lovely bronze colour that looks particularly good on a frosty winter’s morning.
Box hedging is often not happy when crowded out by herbaceous perennials. Patches of dieback can appear. This happens with perennials that have lots of foliage early in the season, blocking out light and air flow to low box hedging.
But box hedging copes well with Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’. The foliage on the long, tall stems is sparse. And the flower heads only start flopping when they are full sized in late July. This gives the box enough time for its soft, new spring growth to harden off.
As the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ flower heads age, they lighten and lift off the hedging enabling better air circulation- an important factor in reducing the risk of box blight.
The box hedging needs to be at least 60cm high to provide adequate support. In early Spring cut off the old flower heads to the nearest two strong buds, rather than cutting the Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ back to the ground. This helps the stems to thicken and become stronger to hold up the new flower heads.
Trimming the box hedging can be a little awkward. Carefully tie the hydrangea back using posts and string, lifting the flower heads off the box hedging to give enough room for the shears or trimmers. But still be careful as it’s very easy to cut a hydrangea stem by mistake. On the plus side, Hydrangea ‘Annabelle’ make lovely cut flowers for the house so save any ‘clipping accidents’.
If you have a box parterre or border edged with box hedging then I definitely recommend Hydangea ‘Annabelle’ for a low maintenance planting solution that has maximum impact. They will need regular watering, especially if the summer weather is hot and dry. But it’s worth the effort when you can enjoy the stunning results.