Every how-to book on shade gardening that I’ve read recommends hostas. I wonder if there is a shade garden anywhere that doesn’t contain them.
When we moved to this house, there were dozens of hostas in the gardens, of two varieties: Aphrodite, with large glossy leaves and stunning, fragrant white flowers; and a plain green variety whose name I never learned. The latter are the first of the hostas to leaf out in the spring, but otherwise they are unremarkable. Many of them mysteriously disappeared over the years, and I found out why as I pulled ivy from the gardens – one area was crisscrossed with varmint tunnels. Adding a bulldog/shepherd mix to our family in 2009 helped reduce the population.
At that time, I knew nothing about hostas. To my eye they were boring. Despite Aphrodite’s showy flowers and glossy leaves, I wasn’t impressed.
A friend recommended http://www.plantdelights.com. I was overwhelmed with the feast of hostas on that website.
I began adding new varieties to the gardens from Plant Delights, “big box” stores, fancy garden centers, and farmers markets. Friends divided theirs to share with me. A photo of a hosta garden in a nearby city — with all shapes, sizes, textures, colors and patterns nestled against each other — inspired me to try to create a similar look.
Every day in springtime I walk through the garden, peering into the pine needles to search impatiently for those first spikes of tightly coiled hosta foliage.
When (if) the hostas grow together as they do in my dreams, I’ll post a picture. Below is a partial listing of the hostas in my gardens:
Great Expectations – late arriving, early-blooming, medium-sized, yellow centers with deep green margins
Paul’s Glory – chartreuse centers, dark green margins, lavender flowers
Krossa Regal – tall, vase-like shape, dusky blue leaves, slug-resistant
Regal Splendor – a sport of Krossa Regal, with a 6′ diameter spread; same dusky leaves, edged with yellow
Dawn’s Early Light – the most brilliant hosta to emerge in spring, a neon yellow-green … and I’d post a picture if the dogs hadn’t trashed it this year.
Blue Angel – its large, thick leaves are slug resistant, and its blossoms are nearly as beautiful as Aphrodite’s
Sum & Substance – I won this on Ebay and have had it for 5 years; it hasn’t grown as large as expected (yet)
Stained Glass – similar to Paul’s glory
Zounds – brilliant yellow foliage that lights up the garden
Loyalist – mine are very small — perhaps they don’t like their location (on a hillside that the dogs use as a shortcut); they have creamy white centers and deep green margins
June – the word that pops into my head whenever I see June is charming — it has small, perfectly formed leaves with chartreuse centers and green margins
Wide Brim – similar to Patriot (see photo below) but with yellow margins
Gold Standard – this is a big beauty that emerges green and is bleached to pale chartreuse by late summer – I love that pop of color so much that I painted a bench to match
Minuteman and Patriot – I get these two confused — both have green centers and creamy white margins; one emerges much earlier in spring than the other; their tight, ruffled foliage is gorgeous but looks a little ratty by late summer
Albo Marginata – large; green centers with very thin white margins
Striptease – soft green leaves with a lighter stripe of green in the center which is edged with a thin white line … love this one
Tokudama – large, heart-shaped leaves, deep green in the center, lighter green margins
Sun Power – a large hosta with an appropriate name — when the sun hits it in the late afternoon, it glows as if lit from within