Tree Form Tardiva Hydrangea Adds Privacy and Screening To The Deck

Every year I spruce up the deck a bit for the spring/summer season. I’ve delayed this year because I’ve been getting estimates for having the porch and decks pressure washed and painted and it didn’t make sense to buy plants and fill up all the pots if they were all going to have to be moved, come painting time. Once plans for a Memorial Day cookout got underway, I threw caution to the wind and started sprucing it up anyway. That’s me…always practical! πŸ˜‰

Remember the pagoda umbrella I purchased a while back? I tucked it away for winter  but it was time to pull it back out. Here’s how it looks from the porch.

Pagoda Umbrella


I also purchased two tree form Tardiva Hydrangeas. Since I haven’t planted trees back where the old Leyland Cypress were, I was looking for a way to provide a bit of privacy for the porch and deck on this end of the house. I was amazed to find hydrangeas that can take full sun and even more amazed to find them in a tree form.

Tardiva Topiary Hydrangeas for the Deck


I had them a tad too close to the grill when the hamburgers were cooking and some of the leaves turned brown and shriveled up from the heat coming out of the side vents of the grill. Drat! I think they’ll be fine though…just lost a few leaves.

I think I’m going to transplant them into bigger pots. When I water it in this one, the water runs off the top onto the deck, instead of sinking in. A bigger, deeper pot should give the water a place to go and will allow for some moss or decorative mulch on top.

The Tardiva Hydrangeas bloom later in the season and the flowers will be white. I was told by the nursery that hydrangeas that take full sun always have white flowers. I can’t wait to see them in bloom!

Tree Form Tardiva Hydrangea



Another view of the pagoda umbrella, it came from Pier 1 last summer.

Pagoda Umbrella for Deck


The bottle tree was in rough shape after the constant rain we had at the end of summer and into fall last year.

Dirty Bottle Tree In Need of Spring Cleaning


Each bottle got a much-needed bath and a few badly faded ones went into the recycle bin. I need to find a few more bottles this summer to fill in some of the gaps. It’s kind of fun, searching down bottles in bright colors for the tree. Sometimes I’m even forced to consume their tasty contents, of course all in the name of acquiring another pretty bottle for the tree.

Bottle Tree


Last year I planted a Pony Tail (also known as a Fox Tail) fern in a planter here on the deck.  This picture below was taken right after the pot was filled last summer. At the end of summer I brought the pot inside and kept it in the light of the bay window in the breakfast room.

Decorating the Deck with Flowers for Spring and Summer 06


It wintered over well. Wish I could remember the name of the white flower spilling over the front.

Deck Planter


The only thing I added to it this year when I brought it back out onto the deck was the purple Million Bells Petunias.

Foxtail or Pony Tail Fern Planter


This end of the deck needed sprucing up, too. I’m trying a tree form Hibiscus again this year on both decks, hoping the squirrels won’t steal all the leaves off them like they have done in year’s past!  You can see my naked hibiscus in this post: Knockout Rose Trees Knock Out Squirrels.  I found these standard hibiscus at Wal-Mart for just $25 each! Awesome price!

Plants for the Deck


I think I’m a little obsessed with the tree form shapes…just love how they look and the height you get with them. The pot is from Lowes and sports a pretty fleur de lis shape on front.

Tree Form Hibiscus in Peach Red Color



The other side…

Hibiscus in Tree Form



I especially love the trees with the braided stems. Such a romantic look, isn’t it? The braided stems are normally so expensive. I couldn’t believe the awesome prices they had them for in Wally World!

Braided Stem on Tree Form Hibiscus



I planted Calibrachoa (also know as Million Bells) all around the base of the hibiscus.

Calibrachoa or Million Bells in Yellow, Purple and Pink


Remember the whimsical planter I purchased a few months ago?

Whimsical Flower Pot with Attached Faucet_wm


It’s filled with pretty pink and yellow Gerbera daisies. I had them on the oval table inside the porch for the Memorial Day cookout. Once the decks and porch are cleaned and painted, I’ll get the potting table moved upstairs out onto the deck and I plan to place this cute planter on top of it. Maybe. πŸ™‚

Whimsical Planter with Gerbera Daisies


Are you sprucing up decks and patios? Anyone else out there obsessed with tree forms or topiary style plants?

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  1. The white flower looks like Diamond Frost, Euphorbia, sp.?. How does your lobelia do in the heat? I read it isn’t good in over 80 temps. I found that to be true, it does well until it gets hot, then itnfrizzles and dies. There is supposed to be a new variety that tolerates the heat. Haven’t found it yet.
    I am so sorry we ever power washed our deck and porch. It really ruins the wood. You can see the difference in the part that has never been exposed to power washing. Wejust use the Olympic Deck wash now. But we don’t paint our cedar deck.
    Your flowers look beautiful!

    • I think that’s what I had in the pot at the start of last summer and it was overtaken by the other flowers. Maybe the heat got to it, too. Where this pot is near the door, it gets shade for part of the day. I wish I didn’t have to pressure wash but the deck is just too thick in green stuff from the trees and too dirty for me to use the deck cleaner I used before. It would take intense scrubbing to get it clean. Hopefully the company I’ll be using can get it clean with minimal wear and tear. The deck isn’t cedar. We use a lot of pressured treated pine here since termites are everywhere.

  2. I never heard of this hydrangea topiary. I wonder if they stock up here in New York? I haven’t done my flower shopping yet so I will see if this grows in the northeast. I sure do hope so. I have the perfect spot for one! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Everything looks so beautiful! I’ve been out clearing my porch as well and trying to get everything spruced up for summer fun. I’ve not seen the topiary trees here yet. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them. They are gorgeous!

  4. Where did you find the frame for the bottle tree ? I have one on a OLD cedar tree, but would like to have one like yours. I really enjoy your blog, and your deck is beautiful !!

    • Thanks, Becky! Ballard Designs outlet in Atlanta had those a few years ago. They were a ridiculous price in their catalog and I guess they didn’t sell so they marked them down drastically and put them in their outlet. I’ve never seen them again. This one is just starting to rust in a few spots. I need to sand it down and paint it sometime. A project for later in the summer. I hope you can find one or something similar

  5. Beautiful! I can only imagine how gorgeous sunlight must look through those wonderful colored glasses. Love all the florals too, lovely!

  6. Margo (Margaret) Kuhn says


    You have done a great job. My hibiscus tree lost all it’s leaves and I thought it was dead. I read that they sometimes do that. It is now starting to get a few tiny green leaves back. Hopefully within a month or so, it will look much better.

    • It was sneaky squirrels that stole mine during past summers. I would stand in the kitchen and watch him come up and take a leaf, one at the time, off the plant. You would think they would go for the flowers if anything but it was the leaves they liked. Glad your’s is putting back out! πŸ™‚

  7. Your sprucing up looks GREAT, Susan!

    We have been working magic out of doors too.

    But I DID manage to take a pretty teatime outdoors recently I just posted about to actually ENJOY some of that beauty. Hope you do lots of the same. : – )

  8. Kathleen is correct and that white flowering plant in your planter is Diamond Frost Euphorbia. I always try to winter over some of it in my garage each year. It is such a pretty plant. Your new Hibiscus and Hydrangea are lovely. Please post pictures when that Tardiva blooms. You piqued my curiosity by referring to the Hibiscus and Hydrangea as topiaries. I’ve always thought that style of growing/pruning a plant was referred to as a standard. I checked the internet and found this.
    “So what IS the difference between a “standard” and a “topiary” ?
    Well, actually not much… at least in that they both require the same guidelines for pruning and training one single shoot into a plant. They are usually considered container plants. Often they are housed indoors in winter and the pruning requires less space for indoor display. The basic difference would be that a “standard” remains natural at the top except where height is a concern. A “topiary” is trimmed and trained into a ball or other shape at the top and is normally accomplished on evergreens.
    So, I learned something today as well as enjoyed reading your post, as usual. Vikki in VA

    • Vikki, does that mean mine is a standard or a topiary? It is sort of pruned in a ball shape but it looks natural, too. I’ve been trying to decide if I should pull some of the Euphorbia out. I’m afraid it is crowding out or taking over the Foxtail Fern. I hate to do it and the fern is hanging in there. Maybe I should dig some out and add it to another pot elsewhere.

      • If it were me I would give the Euphorbia a hair cut and dig it out of the pot. You should be able to see if you can separate the plant and share it with some of your other pots. If you do not want to risk digging it out and dividing it you can cut it back which will give more light(sun) to the other plants in the pot.

    • Okay, I just called the nursery where I purchased it and they said they refer to them as “tree form” and standards…so I’ll change that to standard in the post. πŸ™‚

      • I guess because yours are not closely clipped they would be considered standards. I’m glad you called the nursery because I was never really sure about the different terms…not, that in the grand scheme of things, it really matters. πŸ™‚

        • I’m glad to know the difference. I always wondered if that was the proper term for those type trees. I’ve basically been calling everything on a stem with sort of shape to it, a topiary. lol They told me at the nursery that the terminology used by nurseryman was Tree From or Standard. I think I like Tree Form better because it really describes it. I don’t know where the word Standard comes from. I got the impression from him that they call them Tree Forms more often than Standard…he just seemrf to be implying that. That may be because most customers might not understand the word, Standard but everyone kind of gets “Tree Form.” So glad you asked about that and looked it up…now I finally know! I guess it was okay to call my boxwood plants that I put in my planters out front topiaries since they are evergreen and were shaped into a pyramid/Christmas tree shape. πŸ™‚

  9. Mary Beth Willson says

    I live near you — where did you find the hydrangea topiaries?

    • Lost Mountain Nursery…they had at least one left after I purchased mine on Saturday. There may be more there. Ask for Cindy…she can always order them for you.

      • Mary Beth Willson says

        Thanks — I will have to get over there. Have not been before. I always love a new nursery to visit.

        • You will love it! They often carry the hard to find plants, the ones you see in Fine Gardening magazine, etc… That’s where I found my Waterfall Japanese Maple after reading about it in Fine Gardening. None of the other nurseries had it. They get a lot of their plants from Goodness Grows just outside of Athens, GA so they are locally grown and used to our weather.

          • Mary Beth Willson says

            I love Goodness Grows — I go at least once every summer — so I know I will love Lost Mountain.
            Thanks again

            • I’ve only been there once, many years ago…great place!

              • Mary Beth Willson says

                Now there are several to visit — I liked Thyme After Thyme but they closed.
                There’s Thomas Orchards which is off the loop near Watkinsville that I
                really like and there’s another one that I cannot remember its name.
                There is a big plant sale in the spring called Plantapalooza that UGA,
                4H Club and Botanical Gardens put on that is a lot of fun and then we hit
                the local nurseries after that. You should look for it next spring. Its
                definitely worth the drive.

                • Ohhh, definitely want to check those out! Thanks for sharing those! Another nursery you may want to check out if you haven’t been there is Buck Jones Nursery in Woodstock. Lady Slipper Rare Plant Nursery is next door so you can visit both while you’re there. I didn’t go inside Lady Slipper when I visited Buck Jones but it looked wonderful from the road.

                  • Mary Beth Willson says

                    I have been to Lady Slipper a lot but usually Buck Jones is closed when I am there.
                    I think they close early on Saturday. But just past Lady Slipper in Hickory Flat is Autumn Hill. Now that is one place I regularly do a lot of damage — the people who work there are always very helpful and they have a good supply. They also have another store in Canton but I have not been to that one yet. I also like the nursery
                    on Birmingham Hwy. that I can’t remember the name of — its in a big barn like building.

  10. Susan ~
    I love your porch settings. You have inspired me to get out there and work on mine. We have had rain for the last 3 days and I need the inspiration to get out and clean off the porch. I actually wintered my hibiscus over and they bloomed all winter. I am anxious to see how they do this summer. Have a wonderful week!

  11. I love the braided trunks and have been looking at the hibiscus for the deck. The grass is coming in in the backyard and we’re almost ready to set out the shrubs and plants. Your flowers and trees are beautiful! Between naps on the porch and hanging out on the deck you have lounging in the bag!!!

  12. Peggy Thal says

    Your trees look beautiful and your lovely porch. Love your umbrella! We can’t buy the wood type they just snap here in the wind- lost 2. I just bought a red beauty 11 ft wide. Then it did not fit the table hole. Now I need to get that drilled out and buy a new umbrella stand. Maybe a new table! Things seem to never get easy. Planted 8 large pots and they look gorgeous. I did get stung by a bee!–

    • Oh no…even when they are down inside the stand, they still snap? The wood pole on this one is really big, barely fits in the hole on this table. I would love to replace my old table/chairs, they are just starting to rust in places. I bet your pots are beautiful, Peggy! The nerve of that bee! That is not fun! I had that happen once when I was a teenager. I was driving when it happened, it was a wonder I didn’t wreck. It was a big bee, too…not one of the smaller ones. He stung me right in my shin…hurt like the dickens! Hope your sting is better now.

  13. Elena Wortman says

    Your porch, shrubs, and flowers are just lovely, Susan. I look at the photos wistfully. Living in Phoenix, I have very limited choices for non-desert plants that can survive 110 degree plus afternoons and overnight “lows” in the upper nineties. On a positive note, because our Phoenix climate is so very hot and dry, I don’t have to struggle with exrtra frizzy hair, rodents, rust and mildew, MOSQUITOES (!), biting flies, and snakes. Yes, even rattlesnakes are few and far between unless one is living on the very edge of the desert. Have a great day.

  14. Hi, Susan,
    Your deck looks wonderful. I love your new hydrangeas! They do add privacy and should be beautiful when blooming. It looks like you’ve been a busy bee. That’s one of the things I like about entertaining: it gets you to get chores done. I’ve been working on my office/guest room all day in preparation for a visit from my niece! Just love all your flowers. It must be quite a treat to sit outside and enjoy the view. Rosie

  15. Susan, your porch looks totally awesome. Your contractors are going to cuss you though, having to move all that stuff, lol. I have several rolling casters I used to use indoors in my sunroom that sure made moving the trees a lot easier. I love the braided hibiscus – our Sam’s usually carries those, but since I have perennial hibiscus (which squirrels have never bothered, or I’d be waging war!), I don’t buy the potted ones. My next door neighbor buys them each year, but never repots them, and strong storms knock them over every time. And you repotted yours, right? That’s a lot of work, but look so great! Love the whimsy pot with gerbera daisies too. I just finished containers today, and with purchasing, hauling, arranging & repotting, I’ve spent several hours the last two days (pass the Advil, please). I would definitely divide that diamond frost – I love it, and use it as an annual. I love how new plants are coming out every year – drought tolerant, bug tolerant, dwarf, etc. – you name it, it’s being developed. Do post pictures when that hydrangea blooms. Now, let’s take a nap a read a book, ok? I just received One Man’s Folly today – yay! Excited!

    • LOL, you’re probably right! Or, charge me double! I’m worried about putting the hydrangea trees into bigger pots, afraid they will be so heavy I won’t be able to move them inside when winter comes. I’m not sure if they’ll make it through the winter in pots. Maybe I need to get a some rolling casters or something. Are your perennial hibiscus in the ground? I’m hoping the squirrels will not go for these like they have in the past…keeping my fingers crossed.
      I did repot both the hibiscus and the hydrangea trees. It was a lot of work…I know what you mean about the Advil…I was sooo sore and exhausted! Good exercise, though. That’s one thing I really like about gardening, you get exercise and actually have something to show for it when you’re done. πŸ™‚ I was just thinking the same thing yesterday, how every year they come out with something new. I wonder when they came out with hydrangeas that can take full sun…that’s new to me but I’m thrilled. They may have been out a long time.
      Oh, you are going to LOVE that book! What a treat it is! Enjoy! πŸ™‚

  16. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    Yes, I’m sprucing up my back porch and I also love those trees. I have one of the hibiscus in a little cranny on my back porch and it looks so pretty when I sit out there and get some fresh air. I love it! In fact, it has inspired me to attempt to make a tiny green house so that I can save it and a couple of other tropical plants over the winter. Like you, I got a bargain on it, so even if it only lasted the season I could live with that, but I’ve already made friends with it and I don’t want to see it die. πŸ™ I’m convinced I can make it work. I also have some of those climbing hibiscus going up trellises and I have another in my mail box planter. I want to save them all. πŸ™‚

    Susan, I remember that pagoda umbrellas from last year. I love the colors in it! They seem so beachy and cool and perfect for your deck. And it looks pretty with the bottle tree in the back ground. I just moved my hibiscus tree into a larger pot, but I think it could use one larger still. I may do what you did and get one big enough to plant flowers in. And I also have some of that soft fern you mentioned. I’ve been wondering what to do with him, he’s so cute. I like what you did so I may have to borrow that idea. πŸ˜‰ Sprucing up is fun, especially when pretty things like flowers are involved. πŸ˜€

    • I know, I feel the same way…hate to see them die. I feel so guilty when one of my geraniums doesn’t make it through the winter. Pam, your hibiscus sounds wonderful…all of them!

  17. Vickie Aust says

    Did you make or purchase your water faucet planter. It is so cute. I would love to have one for my yard.

  18. Aren’t those double hibiscus gorgeous!!! Mine is that same color and has been prolific this spring. Your porch looks fantastic!! franki

  19. Well I wasn’t obsessed with tree form plants but now I am!! Very inspiring post. I spotted that same color of tree form Hibiscus today at Wally World but didn’t stop to look closer. That gorgeous peach/orange/sherbet color sure caught my eye. Hmmm. I may go back tomorrow πŸ™‚

  20. LOVE LOVE the hydrangeas and all your plantings and I REALLY love your umbrella. That is the prettiest one I have ever seen. You really have your outdoor living room looking sharp!

    I am looking forward to seeing the hydrangeas in bloom.

    Don’t forget to add Espoma’s “Dried Blood” to your hibiscus pots to keep the squirrels away πŸ™‚

    • Mary, do I mix it into the dirt, itself? They’ve been digging all in the dirt and making a mess. I hope it will keep them from stealing the leaves this time around!

  21. I throw it around the top of the pot, and it will sink in when you water. Dried Blood is basically a safe source of organic nitrogen and won’t hurt the plants. πŸ™‚

    • I will buy some today! The squirrels have been coming up on the deck a LOT today so I’m afraid they will be up to their old tricks soon.

    • Okay, just got back from the store and sprinkled it all around my hibiscus on both decks. I also sprinkled it in a pot of geraniums on the table under the pergola because I caught Mr. Squirrel digging in it today. He had dirt everywhere all over the table. Hope this works! πŸ™‚

  22. Could you tell me what paint you used on deck? Beautiful!

    • Anne, do you mean the white paint? It’s Sherwin Williams Duration and it one of their standard white colors. It’s not their whitest white, but one step down…I think it may be called super white or something like that. I’m about to have the decks and porch painted again since it’s been six years and I’ll be going with the same color again. I’ll find out for sure then and will definitely mention that in a post when I blog about it all getting painted.

  23. Those hydrangea trees are beautiful! Maybe I should try one on our deck…the deer around here love to munch on the hydrangea shrubs… πŸ™
    I love the way you planted flowers around your hibiscus. I love hibiscus, but lose them to aphids every darn time!

  24. From someone living the condo life, with no yard, deck, patio, or even a tiny balcony…thanks sooo much for all these photos of your outdoor spaces and plants. And for all past and future photos πŸ™‚

  25. Loved seeing your new plantings and the “sprucing” up of your deck. We did the same here over Memorial day weekend. I planted some beautiful, cheerful Zinnias and did a big pot of herbs for a change, a patio tomato plant and two brightly potted pepper plants. We tried a yard garden one year, but the deer ate everything but the lavender. I am curious about something and haven’t seen anything about this topic in your past posts. When you do your cleaning of your porch for the new season, how do you deal with the pollen? I have sprayed my porch down twice now and vacuumed it a couple of times too. Seems we still have pollen around because there is a dusting of it on the floor boards and table tops. Just curious how you deal with cleaning up after winter. I am in North Carolina. Thank you for your posts. I always enjoy your blog. I have also enjoyed reading many of your suggested books. Take care.

  26. I was thinking of putting in some trees in my big pots, but I’d like to find something that can survive a NJ winter outside. I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but I do love the look of yours!

    • The pots the hydrangeas are in, are really light. If I leave them in those, I’m hoping I drag them onto the porch come wintertimes. I’m just not sure if they’ll survive the winter in the pots if I leave them on the deck. I would hate to lose them so I know what you mean.

  27. The deck looks great! We spruced our deck up over Memorial Day weekend as well.

  28. We saw lovely tardiva hydrangeas when we traveled in New England. Some were tree forms, and some were shrubs. The ones we saw turned pink in the fall. I bought two of the bush type from Wilkerson Mills in Palmetto, Ga. Last year the deer ate the flower buds before they could bloom, but I’ve sprayed them this year and am hoping the deer won’t eat them.

  29. Where did u buy the faucet handle flower vase ? I want to buy it soo badly???

    • I think I found it in Marshalls. I found I wasn’t using it very much and ended up taking it to a consignment store about 6 months ago where it did sell. I hope you can find one. Check on eBay.

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