In my shady garden, the month of June is mostly about hydrangeas. And though a late stretch of frigid weather killed the flower buds of most of the bigleaf types (H. macrophylla), the species which bloom on new wood are making up for their loss. The best of these is a relatively new cultivar named ‘Incrediball’.
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Incrediball’
These smooth hydrangeas (H. arborescens), planted along the top of the retaining wall between the back garden and the woodland, are an improved selection of the popular ‘Annabelle’, offering thicker and sturdier stems that keep the shrubs from flopping in wind and rain. They made an especially enchanting sight last night, with fireflies dancing about their giant, moonlit flowers. And yesterday afternoon, when I took these photographs, the blooms were covered in hundreds of tiny black wasps, each as small as a grain of rice.
Tiny wasp on ‘Incrediball’
In the secret garden, a single H. macrophylla came through winter with a few of its flower buds intact. This white selection predates me in the garden, so I don’t know its name. It’s a beauty though, don’t you think?
White H. macrophylla in the secret garden
The large H. quercifolia, featured in the May post, is beginning to fade, but this dwarf form of the oakleaf is still strutting its stuff.
Dwarf oakleaf (H. quercifolia)
And in the woodland, the silverleaf hydrangea (H. radiata) is at its peak. This native shrub offers flat-topped clusters of white flowers surrounded by a handful of larger, sterile flowers. While I watched, bumblebees vied for pollen and nectar, so frantic in their efforts it was impossible to get a clear image.
Silverleaf hydrangea (H. radiata)
Frantic bumblebee on H. radiata with a lumbering Japanese beetle, which I quickly dispatched.
Nearby, a black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) is just beginning to bloom. The perennial’s fetid odor attracts carrion flies and beetles but repels most insects, which accounts for its second common name, “bugbane.” In recent years, the plant has become a popular herbal treatment for symptoms of menopause and thus is threatened with overcollecting.
Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
If you look closely, you can see the individual flowers lack petals and the sepals fall away as the flower opens, giving them a fuzzy appearance.
The unique flowers bloom on stalks high above the foliage, reaching heights of 3 to 8-feet tall.
To see June blooms in a variety of gardens around the world, visit the host of Bloom Day, May Dreams Gardens.