A Gardening Journal

Good Together: Pink-flowered Wild Hydrangea & Huldine Clematis

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Spirit Clematis Huldine 070215 640 

 

Many pink-flowered hydrangeas are a puzzle. If your soil's too acid, the pink of mopheads & lacecaps can become blue. Unless, of course, the winter was so severe that the flower-producing growth had been killed first. Although the later-season pink of oakleaf and PG hydrangea flowers is inevitable, it's often a mixed blessing when these shrubs are highlights of gardens that would prefer to continue celebrating yellow, orange, and red right through to frost.

 

Pink-flowered wild hydrangea's the answer when you need pink that's bullet-proof regardless of soil pH or when the previous winter was evil and arctic. This cultivar is Hydrangea arborescens 'Invincibelle Spirit'. It was developed from earlier generations of less-pink forms (and has now been superseded by the even darker-colored and sturdier-stemmed Invincibelle Spirit II). 

 

Clematis Huldine backside with hand 070215 cropped 640

 

I grow Clematis 'Huldine' nearby; especially when I forget to prune its stems down to their lowest buds in early spring, by July its rampant growth swarms through everything within eight feet. The backs of its petals sport pink racing stripes that partner well with the rosy tones of Invincibelle Spirit—but only if you know to tilt a clematis blossom back and take a look: as below, the front face of a Huldine flower is pure white.

 

Clematis Huldine Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Spirit front face with hand 070215 640

 

The Invincibelle Spirit florets ensure a subtle but successful pairing regardless of which way the clematis flowers face. Emerging hydrangea clusters are rosy, for a simple lighter/darker contrast with Huldine flowers.

 

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Spirit young cluster cropped 070215 640

 

The hydrangea petals expand as their florets mature but, seemingly, their allotments of pink do not. Instead, they become more and more localized in each petals' veins, exposing more and more of the white color beneath.

 

Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Spirit mature florets closer 070215 640

 

These nettings of pink dress the tops of the white hydrangea florets just as the stripes of pink accent the back of the white clematis petals. But these delicate detailings and contrasts between pink and white, front and back, are not the "aha" moment. Far from being the relief from all that white, the notes of pink are the affirmation that—aha—white is the true nature of each of these flowers. If their whites were pure and solitary, we might have taken them for granted.

 

 

Here's how to grow this unusually flexible and accommodating hydrangea, as well as a look at how interesting its stems and dried-in-place flower clusters are even in January.

 

Here's how to grow Clematis integrifolia 'Rooguchi'. Like Huldine, this clematis is in Group C, meaning that it is usually best when its stems are cut back to just above their lowest leaf buds in early Spring. Flowers are formed at the tips of that season's new growth, and the Spring cut-back helps produce a greater-than-otherwise number of new stems while also shortening the overall extent of the plant and, thereby, keeping those flowers within easier viewing range.

 

 
 
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