This new Hydrangea is so amazing that it might as well be a whole new type of shrub! Not only is it much, MUCH cold-hardier than most -- happy all the way through zone 4 in the north! -- but its blooms open green and then progress through 4 different colors! And when the flowers finally stop arriving in fall, the foliage leaps into the limelight by turning bright red!
Limelight begins its show in early to midsummer, when plentiful flower clusters of rich chartreuse-to-lime arise all over the large shrub. As they mature, they first turn pure white, then darken to all shades of pink, finally settling on a rich rosy hue! Cut them at any point in the color show and they'll remain that shade, of course -- so you can get a 4-color bouquet from a single shrub, and a fully-blooming plant has every color present at once! Folks, Hydrangeas just don't do this -- Limelight is extraordinary!
Now, the flowers arise in big, fluffy domes packed with little florets, and when I tell you that these domes reach 8 inches across, you're just going to have to take my word. The most remarkable thing to me is not the size of each cluster but the NUMBER of them -- they dot this shrub like dewdrops at dawn! And they keep arising for months -- well into fall in most climates. Now that's flower power and then some!
But autumn turns out to be a big show no matter what the blooms are doing, because with the first really cold weather, the big, deep green leaves burnish bright red! When you take into consideration the size of this shrub -- 6 to 8 feet high and wide -- you can imagine what an attention-getting spectacle this is in the lightly shaded to sunny garden! (At this rate, the Japanese Maples will have to hide their heads!) And the last blooms dry beautifully right on the plant, so you can enjoy the highly unusual sight of dusty rose flowers on a bright red-leafed shrub!
Now, Limelight is more than a pretty face. It's easy to grow, and once established is one of the best choices for xeriscapic (water-saving) gardens. It also puts up with heat, humidity, poor soil, and a bunch of other annoyances. Just give it plenty of water the first year or two to get it feeling at home in your garden, then leave it be. You'll be astonished at how carefree and lovely it remains, year after year!
If you're looking for good things to plant around Limelight, the possibilities are limitless. I like the look of Daylilies, with flowers so different in shape and texture from the Hydrangea's. Phlox is also lovely for the first part of the months-long bloom season, while late-summer standouts such as Blanket Flower are ready to carry the show into fall.
Space these shrubs about 6 feet apart in sun to light shade. You are in for many years of unrivalled beauty from this exciting newcomer! Zones 4-6 in full sun/Zones 7-8 in part shade.