I love Annabelle Hydrangeas. I have a long stretch of them planted alongside on house. They hide (as they quickly sprout up in spring) the place where the paint is peeling off my home. Part of this spot not getting repainted is exactly because they do grow so quickly making it almost impossible to paint it without painting the hydrangea as well.
Annabelle, first patented in 1929, and having the distinction of being the first plant patented in the US, is one of those almost heirloom plants growing in gardens around old homesteads. There were no Annabelles here when I came, but my cottage style house cries out for them and their buddies, peonies, old-fashioned lilacs, bridal wreath spirea, climbing roses, not to mention lilies of the valley.
This year after our brutal winter I have new appreciation for these study plants. All did well in my garden this year.
Having these plants as the basic framework of my garden has saved me from the overwhelming effects of the great die-back caused by our brutal winter, which will be remembered as That Winter. (Although Handsome Son, taking a page from his Opa's Book of Gloom and Doom, has predicted we will have more like it. I excuse these traditional readings from this book on the part of Opa. Opa had an aunt who remembers the Year Without a Summer 2 (the year after Krakatoa blew in 1883). So word of mouth, from Opa's ear to my son, we have living memory of meteorological gloom and doom.)
In my garden, though, it's a whole other thing. It is a good thing. Like my forebears, I can not run out and simply replace every plant that succumbs. It is not an excuse to find another plant. My budget simply will not allow it. In many ways, my garden is one of shared plants, and plants collected from seed, grown from seed, and taken from cuttings. I try to embrace a state of grace and stately-ness, but that is all in the design. Using these tried and true plants passed along to me hides my lack of cash.
They forgive my sins.