May 5, 2013

Come Back in a Couple Years

May 12, 2010 when I originally posted
In May of 2010, just after I started this blog, I wrote a post about a climbing hydrangea, (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) that I had planted four years earlier. 

You can read it here.

In that post I went on about how this vine wasn't growing up to reach the top of a pergola over the garage, and would it ever do so?  I wondered about pruning it below, and how to do that. 

Commenters were full of encouragement and advice for me.

I ended that post by saying "I'm inviting you to come back in a couple years and see if it ever makes it up over that pergola."


Well, it did. Here's what it looks like in 2016, ten years after planting:


Here are some shots of what it looked like on the way to reaching the pergola --
Three years after I posted that invitation to come back and see the progress, this is how it looked:
May 2013
And in 2014 it was well on its way across the pergola, but still bunched inside the woods pyramid:
June 2014
June 2014

And in 2015, five years after I invited people to come back and check, it looked like this. This is early May, so it is not fully leafed out yet. (I took the pyramid cage off the bottom and did some pruning in the middle):
early May 2015
early May 2015

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This climbing hydrangea that I saw on a local garden tour is what I have in mind, and see over on the right side of the garage doors how they have pruned the lower stems up bare?

That's what I will do.

Here is how climbing hydrangea is most often grown. It is sent scrambling up the tall trunks of trees in the woods, where it loves the shade. Mine is in too much sun over the garage doors.

















These are old specimens that I saw in a private garden. You can tell how happy they are wrapped around tree trunks, not caged in a wooden pyramid. These are unpruned, not struggling to reach the edge of a structure over the garage door. They flower beautifully in deep shade.

So -- mine is not a woodland beauty, and it gets too much sun, and I still have some serious pruning to do. But it grew!

And once again I invite you to come back in a couple more years and see what it looks like fully draped over that pergola.
 

44 comments:

  1. How exciting to see your hydrangea reach the pergola. It will take off across that pergola in no time now. I will look forward to seeing it pruned up and blooming it's head off.

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    1. Lisa, climbing hydrangea is supposed to be a fast grower once it gets going. And this is its 8th year here, so it's time for it to scramble.

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  2. I'm so happy that your Hydrangea reached the pergola. From my experience with vines and climbers, one day it's small, then it seems like something triggers it and off it goes. It will look so beautiful climbing across the top of the garage. (The one you saw on the garden tour is just astonishing!!!) I can't wait to see it's progress!

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    1. Christy, I'm excited too to see some progress as it speeds along the horizontal supports over the garage now. It's time for it to kick it in gear.

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  3. wow, these plans are fantastic. This is the first time I've ever wanted a garage!!

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    1. Jennifer, thanks. I think garage doors are so unattractive, no matter how nice, and they just cry out for something to grow across them. I should have picked a sun loving vine though : )

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  4. I've tried twice now to get a climbing hydrangea to climb one of my Douglas firs. I've had the same inspiration as those pictures you posted of them climbing tree trunks. Both times they've died on me. Maybe I haven't given them enough water, although they are in a spot facing Northeast. I'm glad you kept blogging, and followed up on an old post. Yours will eventually look just as good as the one you saw on the garden tour.

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    1. Alison, your experience with climbing hydrangea is so frustrating. I have found that they are easy to grow, even in less than ideal conditions, and pruned off branches root easily. I wonder what is going on under your Douglas fir. It could be lack of water and root competition, at least as a young start before it has enough size to compete with the tree. They do want quite a bit of water.

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  5. I'm impressed! First, you are so brave with the pruners. Second, you got the climbing hydrangea to grow even in less than optimal conditions. I think they are just gorgeous but am far too impatient to wait for them to grow and tend to them the way you do.

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    1. Sarah, Good thing it is right outside the garage door so I see it every day and am reminded daily of its progress or needs or when I have to water it. It's easy to tend when I see it all the time. But it really has tested my patience -- I'm talking years here!

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  6. Yay! How nice that you were able to see that magnificent specimen over the garage doors on a garden tour too, for added inspiration.

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    1. Sweetbay, I do love garden tours for the inspiration they can give. Seeing a mature version of what I want to do makes a huge impact. And gives me hope : )

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  7. I love that you added another invite in a couple more years. This is one example of why I love garden blogs - you can go back and look at things, and see their progress. I am always amazed at how things grow, change, and we grow and become better gardeners, too. I hope in the next couple of years it grows half way across your garage (or more).

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    1. Holley, charting the progress of plants and overall garden design is such a wonderful result of blogging. And getting advice from commenters too. I do hope you will be back in a few years to see this hydrangea more than half way across the garage doors!

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  8. I remember this post! I'll be back in a few more years to see your even-more-beautiful vine. :o) I love that its growing along the garage. I'm doing something similar with a pipevine I'm growing on one of the columns on my porch. I love the bare stems at the bottom of the mature vines. So sculptural. :o)

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    1. Tammy, Can you believe the original post was not one, not two, but THREE years ago? Do come back in the next few years to see how awesome it all gets : )

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  9. Must be very satisfying to see it reach the pergola. I suppose this is an object lesson on not giving up on a plant too soon. That climbing hydrangea over the garage is an amazing specimen!

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    1. Jason, it is more than saisifying to see this finally reach the pergola! I feel like I have been waiting forever.

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  10. You go friend!!!! How awesome that it has reached its mark!!! And how wonderful that you have such an outstanding blog 3 years later!!! I can not wait to see how your hydrangea progresses in the next several years! The inspiration photo is beautiful!!!

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    1. Nicole, the inspiration photo is great, but what I really liked is that it was at a house here in the area, not an arboretum or park. This was a homeowner who grew it (many, many years ago) and the inspiration for me was to see that I could grow it too (over many, many years!)

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  11. Gardening is all about hope and a little bit of faith. Most of the time things turn out pretty good. I use my local arboretum when I buy plants as a way to judge how they will progress, not to dissimilar to the approach you took. I would say your blog is turning out to be just as successful, love reading your posts.

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    1. Charlie, thanks so much. When things do turn our pretty good, and when they finally grow the way yo want, it really is rewarding!

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  12. How great to see this vine grow...mine is still not growing ...it is in too much shade I fear so when the tree comes down, it may finally grow up to the top of the pergola.

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    1. Donna, I didn't think you could have too much shade for a climbing hydrangea, but it sounds like yours is not happy where it is. I worry about too much sun for mine and wish I had some big trees around.

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  13. Big congratulations, Laurrie, to both you and your hydrangea. The time it's taken to climb the ladder of success shows why gardening is not for the impatient.

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    1. Lee, I like thinking of this hydrangea climbing the ladder of success!

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  14. Perhaps it will bloom this year...
    I planted one on the side of my garage..facing south...about 3 years ago..
    Lots of lovely leaves...and it is clinging for dear life...but..
    No flowers yet...
    Isn't it the most beautiful blooming shrub/vine ever???
    Good luck...keep us posted..

    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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    1. Linda, I hope yours flowers, even though it is clinging for dear life! It really is a beautiful vine. And even in winter, without leaves, the twisty trunks have peeling bark that is interesting.

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  15. Climbing hydrangeas are one of those plants that may take years to flower and grow to the gardener's vision, but they are so worth it. They become old friends since they have shared so many seasons, with both ups and downs. Mine had just begun to enjoy the oak tree it was using for support when the tree had to come down. Now my climbing hydrangea is transitioning to a new shape ... one I have not yet fully decided upon thanks, mostly, to the effects of deer browsing. I might just let it become a really cool ground and stump cover. It seems to be agreeable to this idea.

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    1. Joene, I really like the idea of climbing hydrangea going horizontal as a groundcover. Whiteflower Farm has it running horizontally along a stone wall (it is immense) and it is great used that way. I'd love to see how yours spreads out like that!

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  16. Hooray! Your vision of the hydrangea over the garage is on its way to becoming a reality. It just goes to show once again that one of the most valuable lessons learned from gardening is patience.

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    1. Rose, I have so many small trees and new plantings that patience seems to be the only thing I grow here : )

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  17. You did a fine job with the vine. Perserverance is the key word. I really fancy flowering vines, lianas and climbers. They are such a joy to look at when in full bloom

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    1. Stiletto ElsieXie, thanks so much. Patience and perseverance are rewarded sometimes, and this plant is starting to reward me!

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  18. Hey Laurrie,
    Yes the climbing hydrangea is notoriously slow. When researching for a story several years ago, I learned sometimes can just sit there for 5 even up to 10 years with slow growth and then it goes -- BOOM. H ope you're not too far off from that.

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    1. Patrick, I planted this in 2006, and it was slow, but 2010 was the year it suddenly got going, then it slowed down again. Now I'm hoping it takes off in 2013.

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  19. Congratulations Laurrie on three years! I remember that inspiration picture of the hydrangea you posted, what a beauty. So glad to see your own hydrangea is slowly making its way up and across.

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    1. Marguerite, thanks! It's been a long slow wait, but the hydrangea is making some moves now.

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  20. Hi, Laurrie ~ Your climber is looking good! I planted a hydrangea vine last summer, so excited to have it in my garden, but I didn't know it took so long to establish and flower! Mine has only seen one winter and this spring I noticed it's bare in the middle, some leaves at the top but lots of leaves at the bottom by the soil! Did this ever happen to you?

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    1. Mine was leafy all over, right from the start, so it sounds like yours may have some winter damage. It may be fine, and may fill back in after a few years, I hope! This year, in 2014 my whole vine is really taking off and crawling right across the pergola now. Slow to grow the first years, but a fast grower once it gets going.

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  21. I am facing a yard completely overgrown including a hill which was cut back into a cliff barely restrained by a rotting railroad tie wall. There is so much work to do and I have no idea how to start. (Hint: It is not by looking through seed catalogs!) Everyone tells me just jump in, in two years you will be well on your way. I cannot even see the yard I want out there. Your post is literally bringing me to the verge of tears. There IS hope.

    Oh, and there is also poison ivy.

    Your goal picture is amazing and you have gotten the climbing hydrangea expertise along the way. I guess I can do it too. Thanks so much!

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    1. Good luck. You do just need to jump in and start clearing away what you don't want and then start planting. The first three years are frustrating as almost nothing grows very fast at first. But then you start to see progress and a few years later you are hacking back all the stuff you planted because it is too big!

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  22. Get some sweet autumn clematis it will come up every spring and you can trim it back in the winter

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  23. A great way to update a garage. I am sharing this on Pinterest.

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