The “A” in my hydrangea acronym LEONA, Annabelle is a showstopper in the garden and a must have in the landscape. Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle,’ is the Latin name for Annabelle hydrangea and this species of hydrangea is one of only two native hydrangeas to the US – the other native species being H. quercifolia, the Oak Leaf hydrangea.

Native throughout Appalachia and into the Delaware River valley, H. arborescens can be found growing as an understory bloomer beneath the canopies of dogwood, beech, and birch. Mountain roadsides and stream beds host native habitats as well for this hydrangea. A cultivated species of the genus, ‘Annabelle’ is a terrific garden entity for its presence, cutting attributes, drying capabilities, and seasonal interest.

Here in the Deep South, ‘Annabelle’ will begin to bloom in mid May and bloom well into June. Once July and August come around, the creamy white blooms will turn lime green and make excellent additions to a dried hydrangea composition. Blooming right after Oak Leaf and just before ‘Nikko Blue’ and ‘Limelight,’ ‘Annabelle’ is your ticket to hydrangeas from late spring into early summer.

Light and water…’Annabelle’ can take direct sun with plenty of water. Remember, hydrangeas will tolerate shade but need sunlight for photosynthesis and bloom production. When planting hydrangeas, find a garden spot, such as an Eastern exposure, that receives several hours of sunshine and can glean hearty amounts of water. After all, hydrangea is derived from the Latin terms for “water vessel.” ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Limelight’ can tolerate the most sun in the Deep South and will appreciate a good dose of water when exposed to more sunlight.

Allow me now to gush about this flower proper…dinner plate size blooms I kid you not! Spanning up to 10” in diameter, the blooms of ‘Annabelle’ are a spectacular spectacle in the garden and mounded in floral compositions. Take an armful of these gorgeous mounds of tiny white florets and arrange them in a punch bowl, tureen, or cache pot for a glorious effect. Mix them with broad leaves of ginger, papyrus, fatsia, hosta, or philodendron for a cool and classic combo. And since these lovely blossoms are a neutral color, compose them with the beginning buds of ‘Nikko Blue,’ and ‘Endless Summer’ for a handsome array of summer’s splendor.

Once the white blooms have turned, you’ll witness your ‘Annabelle’ blossoms fade into a glorious array of greens, from ochre to jade to chartreuse. Once the blooms have turned from white to lime green, you can cut and arrange them for they will dry in place. Adorn your mantelpiece, bookshelves, or entry hall with lovely bouquets of ‘Annabelle’ and friends and keep them for months on end once they have dried.

I hope “LEONA” finds her way into your garden and ‘Annabelle’ in particular for a dose of mega blooms and drying prowess. This Farmer has made ‘Annabelle’ a perennial favorite in my garden and I hope you do as well…from the Farmer’s garden to yours…happy gardening with ‘Annabelle.’