Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hostas have some of the Best Names!

I think I know why this Hosta was named "Wheee".

"Wheee!" is what raindrops cry out then they slide down those curvaceous leaves!

Hosta breeders seem to have a sense of humour when it comes to naming their creations.

Somebody must be a Marvel Comics fan. The hosta you see above is named Hosta 'Wolverine'. It has curvy, tapered leaves that are blue-green with creamy-yellow margins. Height: 15-18" Spread: 40".

Hosta 'Eskimo Pie' (below) has puckered leaves with creamy-yellow to white centres. Its flowers are white. Height: 26 inches, Spread: 32 inches.

Whenever I begin to feel a bit snobbish and dismissive about Hostas, I'll come across a garden that reminds me just how terrific they can be when they are mixed creatively. 

If you love playing with texture, foliage size and color, Hostas have so much to offer. 

This is a backyard in Mississuaga, Ontario. As you can see, the lot is wider than it is deep. Mature trees around the perimeter of the yard result in a shady garden.

Here the grass does not function as a traditional "lawn". It's more of a pathway that leads you in amongst the various garden beds. 

As you can tell almost immediately, this is a Hosta lovers garden.

Let's start on the left and take a walk around, shall we?

The brick on the main floor of the house is covered with ivy, and in the lefthand corner of the picture, you can see that a Euonymus also trails up the side of the house.

Do you like this combination of blue-green and deep burgundy as much as I do? Most of the Hostas in this garden were well marked, but this one seems to have eluded a plant tag.

At the very bottom of the picture above, and in the image below, is Hosta 'Gypsy Rose' with its distinctive centre band of lime. 'Gypsy Rose' is apparently a mutation of the Hosta 'Striptease'. It can be expected to reach a modest height of just 15".

(Aside: Have you ever seen the classic movie about striper Gypsy Rose Lee? She was a vaudeville burlesque entertainer who used humour to play up the "tease" in "striptease".)  

Hosta 'Gypsy Rose'

Hosta 'Wirlwind' has foliage that changes color throughout the season. Its slug resistant leaf is creamy-white with green veining in spring, light green during the summer and dark green in late summer. Lavender flowers. Height: 20 inches, Spread: 40 inches.

Hosta 'Paradigm' has gold leaves streaked with blue-green. The foliage is tough and corrugated also making it slug resistant. Lavender flowers. Height: 20 inches, Spread: 36 inches.

Hosta 'Night Before Christmas' is a mutation of Hosta 'White Christmas'. It has thicker leaves than 'White Christmas' and wider leaf margins. Purple flowers. Height: 18 inches, Spread: 36 inches.

I wonder if the person who named this next Hosta was a fan of the vampire book series?

Hosta 'Twilght' has dark green, slug resistant leaves with yellow edges and purple flowers. Height: 22 inches Spread: 30 inches. 

Sorry, another unidentified pair, but again, what a nice color combination! 

As I type this I making a mental note to look for a small chartreuse Hosta to mix in with a blue-green Hosta this coming spring.

For anybody new to gardening, a few tips on growing Hostas:

Hostas grow best in moist, well-drained soil. Dappled sunlight and rich, sandy loam is best for good, strong growth. Morning sun will help intensify leaf colors, but hot afternoon sun won't be appreciated.

Hostas are very easy to propagate through division. I always get to work early in the spring and divide them as soon as the tight cones of new foliage poke up a few inches above the ground. You can still divide them later in the season, but you run a greater risk of damaging the foliage if you wait until the leaves fully unfurl. If you don't get around to dividing your hostas in the spring, you can also do it in the fall.

Dig up your Hosta and then cut through the clump with a really sharp shovel. Each division should have about three of the tight foliage cones.

Mulching is a great idea as it helps to keep the soil around your hostas moist. I always use a natural cedar mulch.

Holes in the foliage are a sign of slug damage. Various remedies for slugs is perhaps the subject for another post. To avoid this problem, look for varieties with thick, leathery leaves that state they are "slug resistant". 

Another combination that makes use of yellowy-green. I am not sure of the particular Heuchera cultivar here, but Heuchera 'Citronelle' would be one that is similar.

In the far corner of the garden, there is a Red Twigged Dogwood Shrub (Cornus alba)

I have a few of these Dogwoods in my own garden, the largest of which is about 6' tall by 6' wide. They like part-sun to full sun. It is a good idea to keep a watchful eye on this type of Dogwood for the first summer after you plant it. They resent dry soil and will perish if you let them go too long without water. After that first year, they settle in pretty nicely and don't require too much pampering. 

The shrub's stems are brilliant red in winter. (A little tip: Each year it is a good idea to prune out a few of the older branches in late winter to reinvigorate the shrub. Pruning encourages fresh growth and that terrific red color.)

Now that we have reached the far corner, we'll head back on the opposite side.

A shady container planting that incorporates Coleus (both multi-colored and lime-colored) with Sweet Potato Vine and Creeping Jenny.

It was raining on the day of the garden tour (June) and you can see that the grass was taking a beating.

Some people might say this garden is fairly low maintenance, but I would think that there is still a quite a bit of work involved here. Just removing the spent flower stems on all these hostas would require quite a bit of effort!  

I'd think there would be times, in a garden like this, where you'd have a lot to do and periods during the summer where the upkeep would be much less labor intensive.

Later in the gardening season there are colorful Phlox and Daylilies (in a few of the sunnier pockets).

Euonymus standards flank the front door. The mix of the blue Junipers and the lime-colored hosta is really nice. The taller perennial is a mid-summer Phlox.

Most of the established part of the garden is at the back of the house, but there were some nice plantings at the front of the house as well. 

Below is a really popular Hosta called 'Sum and Substance'. It's one of the largest Hostas available with a spread that can reach five or six feet. The leaf color varies from chartreuse to gold depending on the amount of sunlight. The flowers are pale lavender.

I'll have more shade garden posts in the coming months.

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  1. Now, I never knew this!! I have a lot of different types of hosta, but these names are just wonderful. I am going to look through these photos again, to see how many of them I have.
    I LOVE Whee!!! :-)

  2. I fell in love with hostas a few years ago. They brightened up a shady spot in our last garden. I keep quite a few in pots, and move them around the garden, filling in spaces where necessary.

  3. I love hostas, especially the blue toned. We continue to add more and more to our garden but the rabbits and voles also like them. I agree the names are fabulous. Your garden is divine!

    1. Thanks, Karin but I can't take the credit. This is not my garden. I love the blue-toned hostas too and hope to add a few this spring.

  4. My hosta collection grows every year and I love adding new ones. I'll be keeping my eye out for "Gypsy Rose" to add to the shade garden. I have the perfect spot under a big old maple that the hostas love.

  5. I often buy plants just because of their name, especially daylilies. But when it comes to hostas, I usually pick them because of their looks. You just can't beat hostas for low-maintenance, all-season color in shady spots. But you've shown here what I think is key to using hostas in a garden--pairing them with other plants for contrast. I love the burgundy of the maple against the green of the hosta!

  6. Thank you for this beautiful post! As I sit here looking out at new snow covering my garden, this post made me smile, day-dreaming of spring and getting back to gardening! I love hostas. They give so much for so little time & effort on the gardener's part. This is a truly beautiful garden. Thx for sharing!

  7. What a fun post! I love hostas and some love Houston. I fell in love with one called Guacamole host when I saw it in the Portland garden of JJ de Sousa, just mentioned them in my blog this week. I have two in pots but she had 4 huge pots full of them. I am going to see if I can find a few of the ones you mentioned and give them a try. Is it only snails and slugs that eat the leaves. I end up with holes but can never find the culprits!

    1. Laurin, I am not sure it is only the slugs that eat holes in Hosta leaves, but they are certainly the most likely candidates. I must say I am glad that Japanese Beetles, which are a huge nuisance here, seem to have no taste for hostas! They seem to prefer the leaves of vines like Virginia Creeper. Last summer the Virginia Creeper that runs along the fence looked like Swiss cheese!

  8. I came across a hosta named 'electrocution' this week. It is an apt name for that hosta too. Hostas are also known as friendship plants because they can be divided and shared with others. I still can't believe how many hostas I was able to plant after dividing them a couple of years ago. And all of them were perfect once planted.

  9. A beautiful garden! A really masterful use of hosta (which makes a very nice combination with Heuchera). I like hosta but unfortunately so do a lot of other creatures, which has kept me from acquiring any more than the passalong I got from my grandmother. 'Eskimo Pie' might change my mind, the colors in the leaves are gorgeous!

  10. Beautiful garden and I love the names of the hostas. :o) I see hostas marketed as 'drought tolerant' so often here but that just means they won't die but will look wretched. They always look better when given moister soil. I'd love to have 'Eskimo Pie' in my garden!

  11. Absolutely gorgeous. I love them all. Do you know the fern (?) in the statue photo?

    1. No sorry I don't Mindy. I was thinking it was an Ostrich Fern initially, but as looking more closely I am thinking it is some other fern.

  12. I used to collect hosta and bought many just for their name!

  13. Don't know if it is rabbits or deer eating my hostas. What do you think? Very discouraging

    1. Rabbits tend to eat a hosta's young tender shoots, while deer will eat the foliage and leave just the stalks behind. There are some sprays you can use to deter the deer. Deer Off, Bobbex and Liquid Fence and Deer Repellent are a few products you might try.


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