the annabelle.

At the Highland Park garage sales last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how many homes had beautiful hydrangeas in their landscapes.  I also noticed they were all Annabelle’s (H. arborescens).  Up until not terribly long ago, Annabelle’s were really one of the only hydrangeas that would bloom reliably well in Minnesota.

annabelle close up

You know those huge gorgeous blue hydrangeas (H. macrophylla) like these, grown by Danielle of Finding Silver Pennies?

from Finding Silver
photo from

Yeah, those don’t grow here.  Well, you might be able to get them to grow, but they definitely won’t flower much.  I’ve always been so envious of southern gardeners that could grow these!

Several years ago a new variety of H. macrophylla came out, the Endless Summer.  It blooms on new wood, unlike the older versions and therefore is supposed to bloom in colder climates.  We all rushed out to buy them.  I put in two, nnK put in a whole row of them, Sue put several in her garden also.  But honestly, they don’t do all that well either.  This year I have a grand total of three blossoms on mine so far.  Do any of you other northern gardeners have better luck with them?

In the excitement over finally having blue and pink hydrangeas rather than just white, I kind of forgot about my old Annabelle’s.  I moved one of them out behind the Carriage House into the cutting garden.  But after seeing so many of them in Highland Park, I realized I need to move some front and center again.  Maybe put one or two next to the potting shed.

I moseyed out behind the carriage house to the cutting garden to see if my Annabelle was doing well back there, and look!

annabelle in cutting garden

Completely covered in flowers, despite a total lack of care on my part.  These will look amazing for quite a while.  Then the flowers will dry and I will use them in my winter window boxes.  Sometimes these traditional old fashioned varieties are just the best.  That’s probably why they became so popular in the first place.

annabelle hydrangea in turquoise vase

I may never be able to grow a huge hedge covered in blue hydrangea blossoms, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the more subtle beauty of the Annabelle.  At least until the Limelight’s (H. paniculata) start blooming!

annabelle hydrangea


18 thoughts on “the annabelle.

  1. ohhh,how I love those flowers ! on another note….try putting the annabelle cuttings in h20 bleu or pink food coloring. : )


  2. Not sure if this is the answer, but I have found it takes about three years after planting hydrangeas for them to really flower. At least that has been my experience here in Missouri.


    1. I think I have been spoiled by the Limelights. They bloomed from the get go, and quite nicely I’ll add. They aren’t quite open yet, but I’ll share them when they are They are covered with buds. I’ve had the Endless Summers a couple of years longer than the Limelights, and nada.


  3. In Western New York, we grow Annabelles, and good old fashioned hydrangea macrophylla “Nikko Blue” We had a mass of them across one part of our old family house. Salvage Junkie is right,,,it typically takes about three years for a shrub to come into full bloom. We tried Endless Summer…blah. And should have known better. Being in the landscape business for many, many years, we learned that the old reliables are that way for a reason…they are reliable! And some of the newer brands just never perform the way they do in the nursery pots!


    1. We can grow the Nikko Blue here, but it won’t flower much if at all. It blooms on old wood, and most of our winters are too harsh to save any old wood. I had one in the garden for about 5 years and finally gave up on it. I’m with you Lynne, the old reliables are still the best!


  4. I’m in west central MN and I have only been able to grow Limelights and Little Lamb’s (similar to limelight). I haven’t put Annabelle in yet, but will soon. Mine boomed from the 1st year I planted them, white, which turn to a muted pink in fall. A few took a real beating this winter and just don’t look good and have no blooms at all. I used to have the chaotic English garden flowers everywhere thing, but ripped out most of it and went to the almost maintenance free hydrangeas all over, along with the ever-reliable hostas.


    1. I have two volumes of that gardening book, and I’m pretty sure they belonged to my grandmother. They used to have ugly book jackets, so imagine my delight when I took one off and found a fab aqua book underneath! My fave color! Perfect for gardening themed photos along with the chippy aqua garden tool.


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