Tag Archives: Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

In A Vase On Monday-Accent On Green

In A Vase On Monday – Accent On Green

Each Monday Cathy from Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase assembled from materials collected in our gardens.

In A Vase On Monday – Accent On Green

The garden has moved on from irises and peonies, bringing a temporary lull in color. Dahlia tubers are coming up; zinnia seeds need to be planted. Meanwhile, the garden is greener, quieter, subtler.

Greens form the foundation of today’s vase. With Verbena bonariensis being the exception, flowers in this floral design are just coming into bloom.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

The design is a base of green with accents of color from the violet-hued verbena and from red leaves and stems of Husker’s Red.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

The soft gray-green of lamb’s ear is specked with a few pink blooms.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Rich blue flowers will soon appear on Black and Blue salvia. Its tender young lime-green leaves form a stark contrast.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

The salvia’s leaves echo the light green inflorescence of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers.’  Ruby Slippers will evolve its color into pink and burgundy.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Porcelain Ikebana vase, Georgetown Pottery, Maine. Triangle Black Wave (6.5 W x 6.5 L x 2H)

Happy gardening!

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

Ruby Slippers In The Garden

After featuring the red leaves of my dwarf oakleaf hydrangea in Monday’s vase I went back through some photos to evaluate how it looked earlier in the year.  The sequence of its development each year is remarkable, so I thought I would share its colorful stages.

This is Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea). It was planted in April 2013 near a large Arizona cypress at the back of the western border, where it could receive some protection from the hot summer sun. It developed rich red leaves that first year and had one or two blooms the following spring, but in 2015 I moved it forward where it could receive more sunlight. Then it really took off.

Just planted, April 2013. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

April 30, 2017

By late April the hydrangea show begins. This oakleaf blooms on last year’s growth, but unlike the Hydrangea macrophylla in the garden, flower production has never been affected by cold weather.

April 30, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 8, 2017

The inflorescence can be about 9 inches long.

May 8, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 15, 2017

The deciduous shrub is said to mature quickly at 3 1/2 ft. tall to 4 to 5 ft. wide. Mine has not spread that wide, or maybe it has. I should measure!

May 15, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

May 31, 2017

The flowers open as pure white but in a couple of weeks take on a pink tinge.

May 31, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

June 27, 2017

In another month the flowers have developed a richer red hue. (Ignore those pink garden phlox in the background–an unplanned combination so shocking I almost like it.)

June 27, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

July 1, 2017

July 1, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

July 1, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

September 22, 2017

Eventually the flowers fade and at least in my hot summer garden, turn brown—the least attractive stage. I have no pictures of the oakleaf during this period.

Then in about September the leaf color begins to transform the shrub.

September 22, 2017 Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

December 6, 2013

Brilliant red leaves developed even the first year.

December 6, 2013. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

December 21, 2016

Last winter I captured this frosty-rimmed scene.

December 21, 2016. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

November 25, 2017

And this year the color has warmed the garden with richness.

November 25, 2017. Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ has been a successful addition to my garden. What’s your favorite shrub for extended seasonal color?

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

Friday it rained, snowed and sleeted Friday with no accumulation. Meanwhile through the window glass I was admiring the way Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ is living up to its name this year, the ruby part at least. Before snow resumed on Saturday afternoon, I ran out to collect a branch of red leaves to feature in today’s vase.

Next I checked and yes, looking unscathed by the wintry weather, Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ and ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’ were going about their flowery business.  I highlighted these a couple weeks ago when they had just started blooming. This time I could detect a light fragrance.

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’

What made the red leaves so lovely outdoors was the glowing effect of light streaming though them. In the pictures, without the backlit setting, the leaves are less compelling, but in person they are rather winsome. Husker Red penstemon was added at the lip of the vase, continuing the red foliage theme.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

The design needed more. More flowers. More height. Vertical interest. But the snow had returned and rather than going back into the garden, I made do by incorporating some saved pieces of mossy, lichen-covered wood.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

These helped a bit, but I lost interest in working on this vase any further. I took it as far as I could.

In A Vase On Monday – Ruby Slippers

Today’s container is a ceramic ikebana vase with 3 integrated ceramic tubes, built-in stem holders, with openings near the base to allow water to flow into the tubes easily.


Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’ (Wallflower)
Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ (Wallflower)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Ceramic ikebana vase has 3 integrated ceramic tubes, built-in stem holders

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Primrose’

One more thing: A thoughtful garden club friend, Debbie, recently surprised me with a gift. She is downsizing as she prepares to move to another home and so passed along her Ateco 612 12″ revolving cake stand to use with my flower arranging. The stand is five inches high with a cast iron base and aluminum top. I have seen florists use a similar stand to assist when designing, rotating the arrangement frequently to check all sides. Today I used the stand while photographing my flowers and found it very helpful. Thanks Debbie!

Ateco 612 Revolving Stand

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2017

Today is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides. It’s been too busy around my house the past few months to blog regularly as my husband recovers from surgeries. (He is doing well and continues to get physical therapy to help him regain strength.)

But today I planned to join Christina in looking at the part foliage plays around the garden and as there still are a few hours before the day ends, here goes. I refuse to show a photo of the Italian cypress, one of three planted last fall, mown down in its youth by voles. [I discovered it simply leaning over the other day. How I wish there were an easy and practical solution for controlling those creatures]. So, here is more interesting foliage that caught my eye this week.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) is looking great in the meditation circle.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea) took several years to get established but is looking strong this spring.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

The soft silvery mound formed by Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ foliage is appealing in springtime.

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ at the southern side path entrance has tripled itself. Although it looks fine here alongside this Asclepias, it will soon tower 6 feet.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

This little beauty is Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire). It was planted last fall (along with the fateful cypress vole fodder.) I have admired this shrub on other blogs and am looking forward to having it in my garden.

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

Shasta daisies have helped themselves to an entire border. I push back occasionally and pass along plants to friends, but the foliage is evergreen and in summer the flowers will be welcome, so for the most part I just enjoy them.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Visit Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for a look around her remarkable Italian garden and find links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.

Frosty Winter Solstice Morn

December Solstice (Winter Solstice) Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:44 am. This day is 4 hours, 51 minutes shorter than on June Solstice.

Frosty Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frosty Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frost rimmed foliage of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Frost rimmed foliage of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

In A Vase On Monday— Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

Hydrangeas began blooming last week and I am thrilled. The flowers have a way to go before they are fully open but I could not wait. Hydrangea macrophylla generally bloom on old growth. In the previous two years late cold snaps ruined the buds, so this is the first promising display ever from these passalong shrubs.

Often arrangements of flowers require many more blooms than one would expect. I had to return to the garden to snip a few extra hydrangeas to complete the vase.

These flowers were so luxurious and satisfying to arrange.

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Perhaps an odd use of concealer foliage, I first lay out a collar of pink achillea around the perimeter of the vase and then added the layer of leaves above. I chose Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ for its beautiful red coloring on the undersides of the leaves to complement the other pinks and reds in the arrangement.

Folded leaves of Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' reveal reddish underside

Folded leaves of Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ reveal reddish underside

Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' foliage with Hydrangeas

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ foliage with Hydrangeas

Penstemons are also blooming this week and I used several colors as filler flowers. Husker Red has dark red foliage with white flowers and self-seeds generously. Pike’s Peak Purple is my favorite. Originally planted along the path of the meditation circle only one plant remains there. Last summer I managed to divide it and plant a piece in a section of the border, where it is blooming but not really thriving.  Red Rocks is the third penstemon, and as is often the case with plants named “red,” the bloom color is pink, not red. Red Rocks is blooming well though.

Center: Penstemon x mexicali 'Red Rocks', Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple', Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Center: Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’, Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Penstemon x mexicali 'Red Rocks' (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Also featured in today’s vase are three stems of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’. These large clusters of oak leaf hydrangea, which open white, should gradually turn pink and eventually darken to a rich dark rose. This has never happened. Instead the flowers turn brown and dry up before reaching that stage. Maybe there will be enough rain to keep the plant happy this year.

White clusters of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

White clusters of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’


Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) – foliage only
Hydrangea macrophylla (from Jayme, March, 2013)
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’  (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)
Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Container Notes

I found a new ceramic vase at my neighborhood’s garage sale a few weeks ago. The selling point was its matching lid with holes to help secure the flowers, like a flower frog. The lid works but with limitations.

To begin this design I edged the container with a low soft border of Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow). Supported by remnants of feathery foliage, the achillea stayed precisely where I put it.  But the taller, heavier hydrangeas were less cooperative. At the beginning the hydrangea stems had a lot of wiggle room in the openings, shifting around and adjusting as I inserted other flowers.

Eventually I managed but this arrangement might have been easier with a stronger base of Oasis or another anchoring system. The lid does lift up easily to add fresh water.

Vase lid with holes

Achillea filipendulina inserted into holes of vase lid

This view shows how the initial edging of achillea and heuchera leaves support the hydrangeas in the arrangement.

In A Vase On Monday - Hydrangeas

In A Vase On Monday – Hydrangeas

Hydrangea Color Notes

The pink color of my mophead hydrangea is surprising. I grew up in an area where hydrangeas were always blue. I have never had the soil tested here but there are plenty of pines in the neighborhood so I had assumed the soil was acidic. When Jayme gave me the plants, I think there were 2 or 3 blue flowers the first year, 2013; 1 or 2 small pale blue ones in 2014; 1 or 2 small white ones, 2015. So the flower color has been transitioning as the plants grew and became established.

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

For blue flowers hydrangeas require acidic soil (pH 5.5 or lower) and for pink, neutral to alkaline (pH 6.5 and higher).  To change pink to blue flowers, applying aluminum sulfate to lower the pH and add aluminum to the soil is recommended.

Whew! The End

You deserve a medal if you managed to read this far. Thanks for stopping by.

And as always, thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower obsession. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Overhead view of Hydrangeas

Overhead view of Hydrangeas