Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
This flowering shrub breaks the hydrangea mold at every turn, providing stunning interest year-round. Felt-like leaf buds unfold to large, sometimes huge, leaves of an unusual oak shape. Big panicles of bright white blossoms are held erect and light up gardens in June. They fade to attractive mauves and purples over the summer. Fall leaves are red, orange and purple. Papery exfoliating bark extends interest through winter. Grow this 4- to 8-foot native plant in sun to partial shade. Roots appreciate cooling mulch or shade. Suckers of mature plants may form colonies, but they can be pruned. The plant is virtually problem-free.