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Snowflakes in July

No, I'm not talking about frozen precipitation, though that sounds delightful as our temps and humidity head toward the triple digits. I am talking about Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snowflake'. I don't have any of these in my garden, but I was completely smitten by them when I recently visited Aldridge Gardens in Hoover.

Snowflakes are a native of Alabama. The blooms are double and last far longer than the species. I saw them a couple months ago when their blooms were white; and although they were pretty, I didn't note that they were superior to the species. On my most recent visit, their blooms were turning pink and were spectacular, with their ruffled blooms really standing out.

The world didn't know about these wonderful shrubs until the 1970's when Eddie Aldridge and his father, Loren, patented them and began propagation, using a single cutting from a shrub discovered in Libscomb, Alabama. Now they are grown worldwide. You can read about care and cultivation of Hydrangea quercifolia in my post Oakleaf Hydrangea for All Seasons.

My own oakleaf hydrangeas are well past their prime. Their pure white color has rapidly progressed through pink to rose to brown. Snowflake is far prettier!

My Lady in Red hydrangeas have also undergone changes in the summer heat. Here is what they looked like in May:

This is what they look like now. Still beautiful!

A few other hydrangeas, in different stages, are blooming in my garden now:

Clockwise from upper left: 'Annabelle' has turned from white to shades of pale green; 'Limelight' is just beginning to bloom; 'Niko Blue' has a single bloom remaining; I thought 'Endless Summer' was finished blooming, but it is now developing new buds. Maybe it will live up to its name!

I can't wait for cooler fall weather so I can add some Snowflakes to my collection!


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Reader Comments (17)

They're all absolutely beautiful -- I do love those snowflakes!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNancy Bond

Thanks for that - Snowflake is completely new to me and i LOVE it!
Grow the species and value it for the leaves as much as the flowers and how they hang on into winter here and get lit by the low sun.
You grow some lovely shrubs!

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Webber

I've never seen Snowflakes before, I wonder if I could grow one here. I'm sure I could squeeze it in somewhere. I just love how Hydrangea flowers age and add interest for so long. 'Limelight' is so pretty.

July 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Hi Debs,

Wow, that Hydrangea does look very interesting, you'd hardly know it was a relative of the more commonly seen blousy specimens!

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Dear Deborah, What a wonderful collection of Hydrangeas you already possess [ideal, I should imagine in your woodland setting] but I can well understand your anxiety to acquire H. 'Snowflake'. It really is magnificent - such wonderful flowers over those very distinctive leaves.

As for the temperature world wide!! Here in Hungary at the moment we are close to 40C and at night pretty much the same. In England recently it was only slightly cooler. What times we live in!!

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEdith Hope

Can you hear me crying? I planted Snowflake last autumn, but this spring a rabbit ate it right to the ground and it didn't make the effort to regrow. The only oak leaf that I could find locally was the species, which I bought, but now I am wishing that I had waited. Oh well, there is always room for another.

Awesome hydrangea collection, Deb! Really like that 'Lady in Red.' And your native snowflake is beautiful. I couldn't imagine running across something like that on a hike. Amazing!

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloridagirl

I love hydrangeas and your photos are beautiful. I have two oakleafs but neither are Snowflakes. I hope to correct this at the fall Aldridge Gardens plant sale. Beautiful photos.

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

I am slowly warming up to hydrangeas. They were very popular funeral flowers when I was a girl and I "took against them" for that reason -- for quite a long time. But more and more, I am attracted to some, especially the oakleafs and lacecaps. I like this Snowflake and may have to keep my eye out for one. They can struggle here in the heat and the alkaline soil, but that one is very pretty. I also like your Lady in Red, particularly for the foliage.
Thanks for sharing! Kind of like garden therapy for me, working through my hydrangea issues!

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth Barrow

Snowflake is a complex, interesting beauty, and your shots have me really interested. I have a love hate approach to hydrangeas. They usually don't impress me -- rangy, unkempt looking at times, and up here the macrophyllas disappoint in frosty springs. But then I see hydrangeas like Snowflake or your other shots and I love them. I am slowly adding some hardier hydrangeas (some serratas, paniculatas) this year. Your photos are beautiful.

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurrie

That is very beautiful Hydrangea! I have never seen it before. My hydrangea blooms is also turning brown, but today I have noticed some new flowers.
I love hydrangeas - they look lovely any time of year and are low maintenance. My kind of plant.

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervrtlaricaana

Yes, you must get one!

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPhillip

These Hydrangea's are gorgeous. I love Aldridge Gardens. Have you ever been in the fall, for Scarcrows in the Gardens? It is a hoot! We have one pitiful hydrangea that has been in the ground 4 years and this is the first year it bloomed. Tina says I ignore it, and thus, it does me..... Be that as it may, we water and fertilize it but not much growth nor blooms... Any suggestions? Maybe I should try the snowflake variety....

July 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Bloody hell, this post gave me a bad flashback. As a child, I was constantly punished - additional gardening duty, lawn mowing, incarceration, hanging, firing squad, that sort of thing - for kicking a football into the Hydrangea bushes. sadly, the bushes surrounded the lawn on all sides, so I was doomed!

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Idiot Gardener

I love Hydrangea, with their showy flowers and long season of bloom. Your Snowflake is putting on a good show. Niko Blue has such a super colour that I wish it would grow here. Did I misinterpret your labels, or was your Lady in Red hydrangea blue during one period? That's quite the transformation.

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNorthern Shade

They are simply beautiful and I'll take these type of snowflakes over the cold stuff any day (even a hot and humid summer day:)

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertina

These are wonderful! Amazing that such a showy plant is a native. I visited lots of French gardens last year (my photos of Maizicourt etc you may have seen) and they are big on Hydrangeas so I came back with lots of resolutions, which you have reminded me to act upon! Thank you! Marian

July 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarian

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