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Hardier blue hydrangea varieties bring color and contrast to your gardens

Large, round blue-petaled blossoms with dark green stems and leaves hang from a hydrangea shrub outdoors.
inusuke/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Have you tried to plant the "Endless Summer" variety of blue hydrangea and found it to be more of an "endless bummer?" Try some new, hardier varieties this year that thrive in our cooler zones and produce lots of flowers throughout the summer.

A couple of decades ago, a new kind of blue hydrangea, called, "Endless Summer," came into gardeners' gaze.

And for some, the flowering shrub delivered. For many gardeners in our region, however, "Endless Summer" ended up being an endless bummer.

In the best conditions, this hydrangea flowers on both the old and new wood in summer. And even if the plant dies back to the ground, it will eventually flower again.

Read more helpful hydrangea info from Vermont Public:'The clue to keeping hydrangea happy is in the flower's name.'

What ends up happening in our region is that if the shrub does die back to the ground, it won't flower again until September or October and it doesn't produce many blooms.

Enter a new generation of reblooming blue hydrangea that do deliver lots of summertime flowers.

"Blue Enchantress" grows three to four feet tall and has hardier flower buds. This one seems to bloom reliably year after year. It also has purple stems, green leaves with beautiful blue flowers.

And blue hydrangeas are a coastal plant in Japan and Korea, which is why they grow so well in areas like Cape Cod and Maine.

Another Korean variety is a mountain hydrangea or hydrangea serrata - and is a bit hardier to our growing zones.

Called "Tuff Stuff," this hydrangea has a lace-cap type of flower that produces many blossoms and together, they look like a puffy pom-pom. And it is purple!

Another called "Let's Dance Can Do" is a cross between the mountain hydrangea and the regular blue hydrangea.

And if you do have the regular "Endless Summer" hydrangea planted in your landscape, cover it over in late fall or early winter with woodchips about a foot deep.

Q: This year, I'm thinking of using raised bed borders to delineate spaces in the garden, help control weeds and set up an irrigation system. Any thoughts on choices of wood to use and how to construct the paths? - John, in Lakeville, CT

A: There are a number of wood types that work well to make raised beds and kinds that you should avoid.

Steer clear pressure-treated lumber that still may have chemicals in it that might leach out into your soil.

Cedar is very rot resistant and lasts for a number of years. The downside of cedar is its cost.

Great alternatives include hemlock and spruce. These woods are not as rot resistant as the cedar but still work well.

Start by making sure you get two-inch diameter wood because it tends to last longer and it will be sturdier, too.

Build your raised beds out of cedar and hemlock and they should last at least a decade before you have to replace them.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublicWe've closed our comments. Read about all the ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.