favourite perennials: hydrangea 'madame emile mouillere'

Sarah shares with you one of her favourite perennial shrubs, a hydrangea that lasts perfectly in the vase and the garden, and changes colour with the seasons.

This is a hydrangea called 'Madame Emile Mouillère' and I used to drive past it on the school run and I would just see that from May until December it looked amazing. So I knocked on the door of the people, after about three years of driving past it, and asked them which one it was. They gave me a cutting and this is the plant I took from that cutting.

The thing that is remarkable about it is that in May it has these bright green little flowers, which get bigger and bigger. In June they then turn white and by July, which is where we are now, they start going pink like this - a sort of wash of pink. Then, through the summer, that fades out again but you end up sort of green with pink by December. It's just absolutely amazing. So we literally use these for picking for flower arrangements from May until Christmas wreaths and they have fantastic, really lovely pom-poms in a Christmas wreath. They work incredibly well.

There are a few things it is worth knowing about hydrangeas. The first is that they are very happy in the shade - here we are under the oak tree. They like a bit of moisture at the roots and it has been quite dry recently. You can see if you look that all the leaves are slightly looking a little bit tired so I will put a hosepipe on this for half an hour or so this evening and it'll then perk up to no end. And the other thing is when you pick the flowers just dump them in the bath overnight and then they condition and they last incredibly well in a vase.

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