is a lovely shrub with large and colourful summer lacecap flowers and interesting peeling winter bark. ‘Hot Chocolate’, with its chocolate brown foliage, adds another colourful feature.
It’s the broad, 20-30cm, lacecap flowers which are the plant’s main appeal. The ring of large pink florets around the rim of the flower heads surrounds a broad mass of much smaller violet florets in the centre, and when the plant is covered with them in July the effect is dramatic. Flowering may continue into September.
In ‘Hot Chocolate’ there is a valuable additional feature, the foliage. The leaves open in spring in dark chocolate brown, eventually becoming dark green and making an ideal background for the flowers. Then, in autumn, the foliage changes to amberish yellow with orange highlights. And all the way through, the underside of each leaf is wine red.
‘Hot Chocolate’ makes an impressive specimen up to about 3m high and 2m wide, if necessary it can be pruned thoughtfully in spring. It is happiest in light shade in well-drained soil, and is unusual amongst hydrangeas in growing well on chalk; wet soil should be avoided.
You can order Hydrangea aspera
‘Hot Chocolate’ from Gardening Express
and also from Hayloft Plants
.Also look out for these new plants…Antirrhinum
‘Twinny’ - a new double flowered form from DT Brown
, from Mr Fothergill’s
and from Thompson & Morgan
‘Twilight Fairy Gold’ – golden flowers and bronze foliage, from Cotswold Garden Flowers
Tomato rootstock ‘Estimo – if you’d like to try grafting your own tomatoes, from Kings Seeds