Few plants are as easy to grow and few shrubs flower for such a long period from mid-summer to late autumn. The hydrangea is especially suitable for country gardens where their natural looks are ideal and they can generally have the space they require. The common garden hydrangea is Hydrangea macrophylla, the second part meaning “large-leaved”. A native of Japan, it is thought to have arrived in Europe about 1790. In its wild state, its grows near the coast and on islands near Tokyo. The origin accounts for its remarkable performance as a seaside plant. Despite its large leaves – which in most plants are usually easily damaged – the bush can stand a good deal of wind exposure. The near absence of frost near the coast and reliable rainfall encourages luxuriant growth with large flower heads and rich colouring.