Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Choose the best cut flowers around. These are often award winning plants, such as the panicle hydrangea.
Panicle hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
This species received a Cary Award for 2011, which is given to outstanding plants suitable for New England gardens. The award is named to honor Ed Cary, plantsman from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Hardy to zone three or four, this shrub can be anywhere from seven to 15 feet or more in height.
The flower heads form a cone or pyramid around eight inches in length. The species was originally native to Japan and China. It was introduced to Europe by Phillip Franz von Siebold, who was a German physician during the mid-1800’s.
A number of cultivars are available. Grandiflora is a variety of H. paniculata. Known as peegee hydrangea, this has large snowball-like flower heads that are pyramidal in shape. The blooms are mostly sterile. The flower heads can be 1½ feet in length. This variety grows in partial shade and full sun. Peegee can be trained as a standard, but when that is done you won’t get as much stems for cut flowers.
Tardiva panicle hydrangea
Tardiva is a recommended cultivar of panicle hydrangea. This can be grown in shrub borders and as a specimen plant. The flower heads are mostly made up of showy sterile blooms. When they first open, these are white. However, over time they turn pink. Towards fall, they can turn beige or tan.
Growing well in both shade and sun, this has medium green leaves that have a somewhat coarse appearance. This plant is easy to grow, and needs little attention. It has very few problems.
Tardivia is called late panicle hydrangea. Its flowers open later than those of the species. All of the panicle hydrangea stems make good cut and dried flowers.
Award Winning Gaillardia
The Gallo Gaillardia grandiflora series was among the favorites of visitors and staff at the Raker Trial Gardens in Litchfield, Michigan. These were very free flowering, and bloomed throughout the summer. The series includes five colors. The Gallo Dark Bicolor has a bicolor pattern that is very striking with the yellow towards the ends of the petals, which forms a colorful ring around the deep red flower centers. The stems are used as a large mass flower, particularly in bouquets. They have a vase life of about a week.