Favorite or New Plant
There's a new hydrangea kid on the block that's the talk of the town. If you love the white, round flower clusters of Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', chances are you'll be smitten with 'Incrediball', a new and improved variety. H. arborescens, also called smooth hydrangea, is the late summer-bloomer that is ideal for cold climates because it blooms on the current season's growth. That means that if the top of the plant dies back or the buds freeze, the plant will regrow and bloom on the new wood.
The downfall of 'Annabelle' is that the flowers are heavy and tend to weigh down the branches, especially when they're wet. 'Incrediball' is reputed to have stronger and more upright stems that stand up to the extra-large flowers. I've already planted a small sample shrub so I'll be curious to see how this new introduction compares to the old stand-by.
Planting for Pollinators
I came across a helpful Web page with a month-by-month listing of pollinator-friendly plants. Planting at least one plant from each month on the Planting for Pollinators calendar ensures you'll have something in bloom for pollinating insects from May to October. While you're on the site, consider ordering the 2010 UMass Garden Calendar. This year's theme is "The Wonderful World of Plants" and makes a nice gift for gardening friends.