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Report From PIA – May 5

When we bought the house at Poison Ivy Acres, there was a hydrangea planted under the kitchen window. It was November when we closed on the sale, and as I walked around the property, assessing the plants that were there, I saw from the dried flowers that this was a lacecap. “Hmmm, a lacecap,” I thought, “I’ll have to dig that out of there next spring.”

My experience with lacecap hydrangeas to that point had been with Hydrangea macrophylla varieties, and I wasn’t impressed. The varieties I’d grown had very short-lived flowers that faded even more quickly in direct sun.

Although I intended to remove this unknown lacecap in my new property, I didn’t get around to it the first summer. There were so many other beds to establish and perennials, shrubs and trees to plant. It’s a good thing too, because I was able to watch this hydrangea through a complete season, and I was totally impressed.

In late June, the center, fertile flowers were blue while the larger, infertile petals were white. As the season progressed, all turned pink and then red, and the plant held these flowers through September. In late October the foliage was equally colorful, and I realized that this was a spectacular plant.

For the past two years I wondered what variety of hydrangea I had, and today I got around to asking an expert about this plant. I emailed Mal Condon, of the Nantucket Hydrangea Nursery, and sent him photos of my plant. He responded that I had a Hydrangea serrata ‘Grayswood’, a “very floriferous and reliable variety” that is “not that common but a good choice, particularly for the colder inland zone 6 garden.”

I’m happy to know what I have, since I’d like to recommend this variety to others. I’m also pleased to have the opportunity to get over my prejudices and opinions.

Sometimes we just have to get over ourselves.

Here’s how Grayswood looks in July.

All through August the flowers turn pink and then red. Here’s how the shrub looks in September.

And it has great fall foliage color in October! I love this plant!

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