Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hosta Gardens

I love hostas! They are easy to grow in sun or shade (although some varieties will scorch in direct sun in climates with hot summers.) Yes, the deer do love them, but regular application of deer spray (buy it at your local independent garden center) seems to keep them from munching. In wet seasons, slugs will do some damage, but you can use biological controls for them.

They come in shades from pale green (almost white when they first emerge from the ground) through a chartreuse yellow, through true green to blue green. They come in all sizes from tiny miniature varieties, called tea cup hostas by some folks because they would fit quite well in one, and on up in size to enormous-leaved varieties that grow to 5 feet across and more.

The leaves are soft and smooth on some of them, and heavy and puckered on others. Some are sharp and lance-shaped, others rounded and cupped. They all bloom-- in shades from deep lavender to purest white. Some are wonderfully fragrant. They complement lots of other perennials in mixed beds and look awesome in beds of their own.

There are hundreds (thousands, perhaps) of named varieties, and hosta enthusiasts are breeding new varieties even as we speak.

Each year the cleanup and mulching of our hosta beds is the first priority of the spring season, and many evenings I sit out front with a glass of wine and simply appreciate that part of the gardens. It's painful when, as happened again this year, the plants are fully leafed out when a hail storm hits. (This year there are only small holes in the leaves, but they detract from the look of the garden. A few years ago we had so much damage that the hosta garden looked like a giant tossed salad after the hail storm went through. Lots of tears were shed that year!)

If you'd like to learn more about growing and choosing hostas, there are great hosta books devoted just to them. But be fore-warned-- collecting hostas can be addicting!

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