My miniature rose bush [28.5.2011] was one such thank you gift, and the Oak Leaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) was another. This plant was given to me by an artist friend for helping her with a web site of her work. She heard me mention in passing that I was going to eventually get a hydrangea, because other friends previously promised a piece from their yard but never delivered.
The hydrangea came in a medium sized pot with extremely thick stems resembling tree trunks, but was otherwise healthy. It had been cut back severely in the past, probably because it was outgrowing its home. I was afraid the roots were too shackled to pull through the transplant, but it grew and bloomed for the past three years.
The friends that promised a piece of their plant keep warning me of the monsters these can become. I have been carefully watching it and strategically trimming in the fall. It still has more space to grow into.
It is a native to southeastern deciduous U.S. forests, and is at home in my partially shaded back yard. An added bonus from this plant is the ruby red leaves in the fall. The hydrangea is also available in white or light pink blossoms now, and also in double blossoms. The one I received came with no other name on its tag.
The 10-inch long (25 cm) ice cream cone flowers (as a neighbor's child calls them) were more numerous this year, but not as vibrant white. I attribute this to the dry weather. I am recovering from surgery last week and could not tend the gardens for a while. The plant wilted as blooms started. Water saved it, but the flowers still exhibit a brown tinge. I have read that it does not like heavy clay soil, but so far is happy and healthy in my partially-amended Virginia clay.
For The Record:
Heavy clay soil with mulch and organic amendments
No bother from pests or diseases
Blooming: hydrangea, larkspur, geranium, nicotiana, orange daylily, marigold, cleome, coneflower, hosta,
asian lily, salvia, poppy
Vegetables: tomato and Pepper blooming & setting fruit
Harvested: 1 onion, lettuce