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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in hosta (4)

Friday
Oct232009

Hosta Plants and History

Hosta RevolutionSo many new varieties of perennials found their way into my gardens this season that my brain is on "information overload". Fortunately, I saved all of their picture tags for review during the winter. Among this great number of plants are 20 different Hosta that have all blended into a blur in my mind. What I can remember are the color groups of foliage: green, blue, white and yellow and the kinds of variegation: cream/green, yellow/green, green/white and yellow/blue.

Hosta Patriot Without the help of the picture tags, I am unable to differentiate between the various cultivar. That's a pity because all of the Hosta were carefully selected for particular combinations of color and variegation. It was important to control the interaction of each one’s foliage with perennials planted nearby. Particularly troublesome are 5 Hosta with similar coloration. They are confusing for history buffs who garden because the names of these Hosta are linked to the narrative of the American War of Independence of 1776.

Hosta Liberty The difficulty emerged when I tried to keep track of the 5 Hosta because they appeared more elegant than others. Normally, Hosta cultivar have clear and distinct names so that recalling the appearance of any one is easy. Not this group!. 

Hosta Minuteman

Revolution, Loyalist, Minuteman, Patriot, and Liberty are concepts associated with the story of the American Revolution. Here is perfect proof for the old adage that ignorance is bliss: had I not studied American history, identifying these Hosta would not be confusing at all.

Hosta Loyalist

 

Saturday
May232009

'Ghost Spirit' a Surprising Perennial

One of the challenges of writing a gardening blog is to find the most appropriate picture to illustrate a topic. I have not been very successful at finding a suitable image for this entry. You will have to examine  the picture very closely to see the subtle swirling leaf variegation that caught my eye. I have deliberately oversized this image so that you might get a better look.

I first spotted Hosta Ghost Spirit in the check-out basket of a customer in line behind me at the nursery. I left the line in order to add this plant to my basket and several other customers did the same. There can be no better recommendation than that.

I purchased this plant because its leaves remind me of what happens when a baker pours chocolate batter into vanilla batter and begins to blend the two. About three quarters of the way through the process, the dark and light colored batters create misty marbling. They are not quite chocolate yet and certainly no longer vanilla. That is the best way to describe the beautiful swirling pattern that occurs on this Hosta leaf in misty blue-green and cream. I will plant it in my garden to see how it performs before including it in my repertoire of favorite perennials.

My research tells me that the leaf of this Hosta starts out white and marbles as it matures. If grown in sun, the variegation will disappear and turn to misty green. To maintain the subtle variegation, this plant needs to grow in shade.

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Friday
May222009

Shade Perennials; How About Hosta?

Hosta "Wide Brim". Hosta is a work horse of the garden. Just plant it and forget it. This is another easy-care perennial. The only maintenance required is to snip off the bare spikes that carried its flowers after the blooms have gone. Even that chore is optional. Hostas are known for their resilience and durability. They withstand cold, heat, drought, clay and will bounce back from practically any trauma. This perennial grows reliably from zones 3 to 9.

As a lawn specimen or as a structural element in a shade garden, there is nothing as elegant as a mature Hosta gracing a garden with its symmetrical arcing leaves. Except for a few cultivars that can thrive in full sun, most Hostas do best in part or deep shade. They are successfully combined with other reliable shade plants to create visual interest where strong colored perennials cannot bloom. The graceful arcing of the Hosta leaves, like a short fountain, adds elegance to any garden whether it is used as a specimen plant or as part of a perennial composition.

There are thousands of varieties of Hostas to choose from. The easiest way to make a selection is to first determine which shades of green would look best in the garden and which variegated colors would be most effective. If an architectural or formal look is desired, choose one variety only and repeat it in several spots in the garden. Also, planting a row of one variety makes a grand impression.

By mid-summer, some Hostas become food for slugs that eat through their leaves and convert them into lace doilies. In most cases, cultivars with leathery elephantine-textured leaves are relatively immune to this slug fest.

Hostas work well as a physical border to delineate a flower bed from a lawn. Their arcing leaves suffocate the lawn beneath its leaves, ensuring that no grass will creep into the flower bed. Their sturdy root system does double duty as an anchor that prevents erosion on slopes. This feature also makes Hostas difficult to dig up when they become too large for their location. That is why it’s best to plant strategically to avoid having to move them later. However, they are so rugged that, if necessary, they can be dug up and divided anytime. Once out of the ground,  slice through the root ball with the edge of a spade to divide it into as many plants as needed. The new plants will go into shock when replanted, but no matter how withered they might look from the trauma of propagation, they will grow back the following season in good health.

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Wednesday
Feb182009

Illuminating the Shade Garden

There must be over two thousand varieties of Hosta for us to choose from. I find it difficult to select newer varieties for my garden because I am overwhelmed by the choices; each seems to be a variation on another. However, a recent update that I received from Garden Gate eNotes, changed all that. Garden Gate draws our attention to a new mini Hosta called "Trifecta".The moment I saw it, I knew that, someday soon, I would be making room for it in my garden.

This miniature Hosta is clearly different. I am impressed with the distribution of its three colors. Each leaf has a clearly defined color zone.There is pure white in the center, dark green on the margins and a brush stroke of olive-chartreuse separating the two.

The plant grows only 6 inches in height and 12 inches in width, with soft lavender flowers in midsummer. Like most hostas, it is hardy from zones 3 to 9 and requires no attention. It is an easy-care perennial - just plant it and forget it. It’s a pity its so small, though. I hope the growers who developed it will now work on tweaking its DNA in order to produce a larger variety.

As you can see from the photo, this Hosta does make a difference. Because of Its unique coloration, it will illuminate a shady spot in a garden.And of course, the visual interest it creates is always welcome to the perennial gardener. At the moment, Hosta "Trifecta" is only available from Klehm’s Song Sparrow Farm and Nursery. Click here to access their site.