The plant of the month for August is the hydrangea, a plant with a natural charm of its own. With its blousy blooms of pink, white and blue this much-loved cottage garden favourite has delicate colour and an old-fashioned prettiness that belies its easy-going nature.
There are two types of flowering hydrangea: the mopheads, producing large round pompom-like flowers, and lacecaps which have flattened, lacy flower heads.
Those big, showy blooms will continue into late summer, after which you can cut and dry the flower heads for indoor decoration. Hydrangeas are fully hardy and need only dead-heading in spring, snipping away the spent heads back to just above a pair of emerging leaves.
Plant them in moist, free-draining soil in full sun to partial shade. Interestingly the flower colour can change according to the acidity of your soil: on acid soils, they’re blue, while on neutral to alkaline soils they take on pinker hues. If you have your heart set on a blue hydrangea but have a soil with a high pH (alkaline) there are also several dwarf varieties happy in containers of ericaceous (acidic) compost.