I know, purpleicious is a made up word but violaceous just does not work for the description of the color of Oakleaf hydrangea leaves at this time of year. And while the leaves do look oak like they really remind me of grape leaves but perhaps that is just because of the infusion of grape color which is so welcome as dormancy descends on the garden. The landscape has turned brown with a few exceptions. Those include the late hanging leaves, the shock of blue green kale in the vegetable garden and the green grass. For a gardener intent on perfect combinations, late fall has to rely on evergreens and shrubs with stubborn leaves.
I am enjoying the thick, aubergine colored leaves on this hydrangea. Planted in combination with the Euonymous fortunei 'Variegatus' in the foreground, this shrub only looks better. This combination is a backbone planting in the back shrub border and since it is in a bit more shade than is suitable for a flowering shrub, there are only a few blossoms on the hydrangea during the summer.
No matter, this shrub which is native to Georgia, Florida and Missouri, comes into its own in the fall and I would plant it just for the unique fall foliage. An easy plant to grow. it has yet to endure any pest problems. This oakleaf hydrangea has been in the garden a good five years and is now four feet tall and a bit wider. Plant it where it has room to spread although there are new cultivars on the market which are smaller and narrower if your garden space is at a premium. This hydrangea forms flower buds on the previous year's growth so prune only right after flowering and well before bud set in late summer. The walk through the garden is a bit more hurried these days as temperatures drop and the first snow is already behind us. I must remember to put on an extra layer and slow down a bit to make sure I don't miss these last colorful leaves of the season. What plant in your garden has gotten your attention recently?