What a happy surprise it is that the transition of my gardens to a living landscape that better supports wildlife still yields beautiful bouquets of cut flowers, like this late June bouquet of oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia). For an informal bouquet, you can quickly gather several short branches each with a bloom, as I did for the bouquet shown here. This is very quick and the bouquet has a relaxed feel.
For a more formal bouquet, cut a longer branch with at least two sets of leaf groups. Leave at least 4 inches of stem intact beneath one set of leaves. Then, trim it about 1/4-inch above the leaf set. Place the bloom-end of the branch aside. Place the newly cut leaf-only branch on the rim of the vase. Repeat this with other branches so that your bouquet has a collar of leaves. Then, if there any leaves still remaining on the bloom-ends that you set aside, trim them off. Insert them artistically in the center of the vase. I assure you, it is easier to do than to read about doing!
Keeping in mind that this plant’s Latin name comes from the Greek word “hydor” meaning water, be sure that every stem is deep enough to remain hydrated. The blooms on stems not in water will wilt quickly.
Blooms that have begun to age on the plant can be brought in as a bouquet and then left to dry. Dried blooms of oakleaf hydrangea fade to a cream tan and make a nice base for other dried flowers such as 'Coronation Gold' yarrow (Achillea filapendulina), native to central and southwestern Asia; or strawflowers (Bracteantha bracteata) from Australia. For additions to the bouquet that are native to the eastern United States, add dried seed heads of native grasses, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), or black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta).