My mom gave us several hydrangeas (she was tired of them), and we didn't really have a place in mind to plant them. But we decided we would put them inside our gazebo, since we never use the inside for anything anyway, since the swing broke a few years ago. They'll get some morning and mid-day sun, but shade the rest of the time. Since we had grass growing inside the gazebo, we had to dig that up and prepare it for the hydrangeas. We have a heavy clay soil here, so my husband got the idea of mixing peat and oak leaves (that we'd just raked up) in with the soil already there. Oh myyyyyyyyyyyyy. I really felt like the leaf/soil ration was too high, but he's sure it will be just wonderful. So are my hydrangeas doomed now? I could not convince him not to do this!
They seem to be doing great. I see I previously said they get morning and mid-day sun. Well, they get some late afternoon sun, too. It's just that they each get sun at different times of the day. When I had one of them in full sun, it wilted every single day. Now I don't have that problem.
When we went to Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, Arkansas, most of their gorgeous hydrangeas got filtered sun or shade, so I figured this would be okay. Time will tell, I guess!
Only one of them arrived here with blooms, and it's pink/ivory. It's the small one on the upper left. One of them I had in a different spot, and it didn't bloom this year, because dumb me, not knowing any better, cut it back at the end of the summer last year. Live and learn!
I cut mine 'way down to less than a foot tall about every two or three years and they are fine the next summer. It keeps the bushes bushier and I get just as many flowers. If it's a new plant, it will take an extra year. I'll bet next year it'll knock your socks off. Here's a picture of some of mine from this summer, but they are bluer in real life.
Those are GORGEOUS!!! I wonder if our zones make a difference. The one I had bloomed for me the first year (they were sort of a pinkish lavender), then this year, no. I hope you're right. If these do well here, that gazebo is going to be really pretty. Once they get as tall as the sides of the gazebo, they'll get sun all day, except for maybe an hour or two.
We have clay soil, too, and one year ran out of soil conditioner and, acting on a suggestion by my husband (who must live on the same bandwidth as yours), we used leaves we had raked up and shredded a few weeks earler to amend the soil. I had bouts of serious nervousness through the winter, wondering if the leaves would take too much nitrogen out of the soil as they decomposed and rob the hydrangeas. Finally I asked a horticulturalist from the National Gardening Association (when they were still answering questions), and their advice was to give it some liquid fertilizer in March and watch the leaf color...if it's green, then everything will be fine. I did that, and these are healthiest plants I've ever seen. Hope this eases any worry you may have about the leaves.
Just wait till you see buds about to open (or thereabouts) and then use a liquid fertilizer. They aren't fussy and will appreciate the shot of fertilizer whenever it comes, so if the leaves are already out when you get to it, that still won't be too late. (Pampered as we are here in GA, it's become too easy to forget the climate conditions up where you live--I grew up in PA, then went to college and later lived in MI for a few years, so your comment brought back lots of memories of interminable winters and noncommittal springs).
If this works, I'll attach a couple pictures of the hydrangeas that got the shredded leaf "treatment" upon planting to give you hope.
intention is to show you:
a) healthy foliage of Hyd. serrata 'Miranda' the second spring after transplanting.
b) a long shot
c) hydrangea in bloom from closer in
Just found this thread--my only comment is that I've done pretty much the exact same thing, except I did it as a raised bed mostly on top of the clay hardpan. The only problem I found, with a few of the larger hydrangeas, is that they needed more water because the leaf mixture, not being composted yet, and the peat, being adverse to absorbing water at first, dried out quickly. (Of course, we are in the drought of the century here...). For this reason, they might need to be fertilized the first year or so, until the leaves compost, all the good bacteria get going etc. The smaller plants did just fine for me, and all are growing well. I put some leaf mulch on them this fall, FYI. I think yours will be ok, and its a great use of your gazebo. Very pretty!
They've done great! They've grown a LOT. It's amazing when I see that first picture I posted. They're pretty much grown together and in the spring I may divide a couple of the larger ones.
We put them inside the gazebo because outside, they would have gotten hot southern sun most of the day and we just thought they'd look nice there. True, we could have kept it as a sitting area, but there is plenty of sitting area nearby.