Though I value the role that hostas play in any garden, I have always been reluctant to invest any serious money in them. My collection of hostas is largely a rag-tag band of unidentified clearance items, and plants grown small cuttings that I gotten from other gardeners.
A serious hosta collector can pay fifty, a hundred or even hundreds of dollars for a single plant. So what is it that they see in hostas that I don't?
Looking for the answer to this question got me to thinking and I recently found myself veering into uncharted territory, as I took a wander down the isles of pricer hosta plants at my favourite nursery.
I already afford hostas a good measure of respect. They are reliable, easy to grow and flourish in low light conditions, where more showy perennials do not.
My collection of unassuming plants have given me a good primary education.
They have taught me that, depending on the variety, hosta will bloom over a fairly broad span of time. The earliest flowering hosta I have bloom in June, and the latest flowers well into August.
When you consider them closely, you come to realize that there is also a wide variance in the sizes and colors of hosta flowers. Some hosta send up long, delicate wands that are curve and sway.
And then others have stiff, upright stems like flagpoles. Some flowers are soft lavender, others almost purple and some even have crisp, clean white blooms.
Though the flowers are a nice bonus, let's face it, hostas are valued primarily for their foliage. The leaf colors of even my clearance plants vary greatly. They range everywhere from green to grey-green to chartreuse. And hosta leaves accented with white seem to light up shady corners of my garden.
On the left: Hosta 'Love Pat' Whitish flowers and puckered blue-green leaves. Part shade to full sun. Height: 50 cm, Spread: 65 cm. On the right: Hosta 'Mount Tom' Intense blue-green leaves with white margins. Pale lavender flowers. Light to full shade. Height: 40-60cm Spread 70 cm.
Though my inexpensive plants have given me a good grounding, I am at the point where I want to broaden my horizons.
So what awaits you when you stroll down the hosta isles at a nursery looking for that "one" with that special something?
Well, I discovered that slightly more expensive plants have neat textures like the crinkled and puckered foliage of the two hostas above.
Hosta 'Fire and Ice' Lavender flowers on white stems to 60 cm.
Sun or shade. Height 35 cm, Spread 45 cm.
The variegation is often more interesting as well.
Hosta 'Sun Power' Brillant gold leaves. Sun to Part shade. Pale lavender flowers.
Height: 75 cm Spread: 100-120 cm
Pricer plants offer some very interesting color options that could enhance my collection. Love the almost golden leaves of this hosta called 'Sun Power'!
On the left: Hosta 'First Frost' Emerges with gold margins in early spring that change to pure white later in the season. Lavender flowers on 70 cm scapes. Part shade. Height 40 cm Spacing 95 cm. On the right: Hosta 'Gold Regal' Purple flowers. Some sun for good color. Height 50 cm, Spread 70 cm.
I think my garden could benifit from a greater variety of leaf shapes. Some hosta leaves can be quite round, others almost heart-shaped. These hosta above have a nice, long tapered oval.
Hosta 'Praying Hands' Upright narrow leaves that are rolled and folded into a tube shape. Thin white margins and prominant veins on the underside of the leaves. Lavender flowers. Height: 40 cm, Spread 40 cm.
I thought this hosta was quite interesting. 'Praying Hands' was named the 2011 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Society. The upright, narrow leaves resemble hands folded in prayer.
I am never going to be willing or able to spend a fortune on hosta plants, but I do find myself wanting to invest in a few stars that just might impart their more affordable cousins a little extra lustre by association.
The gardens that I visited last summer are another reason I want to expand my horizons.
The garden of hosta collector Joe Covello really inspired me. He does a super job of combining different foliage shapes and colors in his Brampton, ON garden.
I really liked this combination of Japanese Ghost Fern and an almost-chartreuse hosta
in the garden of Heather Bradley.
Vicky Downes emphasizes the white margins of this hosta
with a companion perennial that has white flowers.
Here in the garden of Amber and Kevin Downes, a grey-green hosta has a nice color echo in the form of a blue-green evergreen. Their blue-grey foliage is emphasized even more by the golden colored leaves of the euonymus just behind them.
With a big garden to fill, I have always gone for quantity over quality when it comes to buying hosta.
Now that I am a seasoned gardener and more experienced with my particular plot of land, I find myself feeling less panicked to fill it up immediately. I think I have finally learned to value quality, not quantity.
I am sorry that I have been missing from blogland and am way behind on returning visits. A terrible chest cold left me exhausted for days and when I recovered, my husband was off on vacation. I promise to catch up with everyone in the next few days.
P.S. No, that is not my garden in the header shot today (I wish)! That is the Rockery at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.
More Information and Links:
Be sure to checkout these two posts on the subject of hosta by Carolyn of Carolyn's Shade Gardens. I LOVE Mice on miniature hosta and Beyond Mice.