Inspired by the American Hydrangea Society, founded in Atlanta by collector Penny McHenry, the Garden's hydrangea collection features bigleaf and mountain hydrangeas, which include more than 230 cultivars of Hydrangea macrophylla and serrata.
Large showy bracts in pinks, blues and lavenders persist long after the actual small flowers of Hydrangea macrophylla, or Bigleaf Hydrangea, have faded. A delicate sub-group are the lacecaps with a central puff of colorful flowers surrounded by a ring of bold bracts that almost look like they are floating in the shadows.
In sunnier locations there are a multitude of Hydrangea paniculata selections with a larger upright habit and long lasting white sprays of bright white bracts. There are even some less common species to be found including the towering fuzzy-leaved Hydrangea aspera, the elegant Hydrangea luteovenosa, and even large climbing vines like Hydrangea petiolaris.
Often preferring shady locations, they are plants to be found under most large trees but they abound in the Southern Seasons Garden. These old-fashioned shrubs, which in June produce a sea of blue, pink, purple and white, are also prominently featured in the Gainesville Garden, where they are evaluated for cold hardiness.