If there was only one hydrangea to recommend for many situations, and to fit all tastes, the winning contestant would have to be 'Annabelle'
Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’
is a spectacular cultivar which ticks all the boxes of a great garden plant: it will grow in many situations including full sun or deep shade and, once well-established, will tolerate fairly dry spots under trees and still do very well.
Amazing, colour-changing flowers
From July onwards the flowers begin to show, starting off a striking lime green, maturing to a fresh creamy-white then gradually ageing and taking on more green hues, before finally drying out and becoming papery and lasting well into the winter.
Unlike many hydrangeas, this one produces more impressive and plentiful blooms if pruned hard back each spring to the lowest set of buds, a bit like you would a fuchsia or an herbaceous perennial. Alternatively, if the plant is left to become bushier, the flowers will still be plentiful but gradually appear much smaller.
Another thing to remember, as with all white hydrangeas, is that they will flower white no matter what the soil type is, so you won’t be disappointed the following year by it changing colour like you might be if growing a blue or pink variety.
Here at Harlow Carr we have several plantings of this fantastic plant. The biggest and best display can be seen on the corner of the white border, where they are complemented with other white flowering plants, textual grasses and dark leaved shrubs.
Find suppliers of hydrangea plants
RHS members can log in to read plantsman Graham Rice's article on 10 AGM-winning hydrangeas
Read more about Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’