Saturday, August 29, 2009

shady hostas

currently shaded on the Manassas deck rescued old hostas
for the yellowish "August Moon" hosta a darker green pot

for the tallest simple green hosta a tall dark pot

a single blue hosta in a blue ceramic pot

my miniature hostas grouped in a low pot: blue"Mouse Ears", yellow-green edges "Cracker Crumbs" & "Stiletto"

red cut leaf Japanese maple in a pot now next to a hosta beds.

For years now, I have loved hostas, a shade loving perennial plant, round like a medallion, it comes in many shades of green emerging right after the narcissus fade. Hosta is a native plant to north eastern Asia, brought to the west from Japan's shade gardens in the 19th century. I learned that cultivating a hosta bed is pretty nearly perfect for it's ease. We have several here in our building's garden. The following hosta in Latin has a link to the Wikipedia page on hosta for more history and general information. Hosta plantaginea

When I was a kid we used to call hostas plantation lilies which is a misnomer for a common name outdated now plantain lily, it has nothing to do with 'plantations' but being dyslexic I couldn't remember the distinction. Those old hostas had scrawny leaves and sparse flowers on tall stems that were not very pretty late in summer and didn't have a scent. Hence as a kid I didn't like them or understand why people planted them in their gardens. Since then hostas have more variety and hostas even have their own American Hosta Society.

I remember first being seriously curious about hostas back in 1988 when I used to see them as I walked around the Palisades along the MacArthur Blvd. in north west Washington DC where many arts and crafts style homes had huge blue leaf hostas. They were growing as foundation plantings that didn't seem to need any attention and some had short full white blossoms. Years later I moved into a house with a tiny garden 3'x 14' that wasn't getting more than a couple hours of very early morning sun and I began studying what I could grow in that dark space. Hostas and ferns and the colorful annual inpatients and caladiums in addition to cut leaf Japanese maple were some of the best plants for shade in that garden. I have had several gardens since then moving my hosta collection with me in pots to new homes. Since I was so excited about my hostas I once planted a nice hosta and hydrangea garden for my mother in Manassas but the air conditioner replacement crew and a hemlock tree have pretty much laid that bed to waste. We rescued a lot of the hostas from the air conditioner replacement guys in 2006 by potting them up. In Manassas there wasn't another shady bed to move them to and I left them in temporary pots for her to tend. Hostas grow well in ceramic pots rarely harmed by winter freezing. Earlier this summer I got an idea when I saw a big glazed blue pot at one of the garden centers. I thought that a mix of three or more hostas in a pot would be a nice arrangement that might work for the ones that were still looking for a permanent home in the Manassas temporary pots. I got one pot and found that a single blue hosta was all we could get in it leaving a little room for it grow larger. That led me to think of my miniature hostas at home in this type of pot and I tired it this summer in my back yard. They are the round blue leaf "Mouse Ears", yellow-green with dark green edges "Cracker Crumbs" & dark green with white edges "Stiletto" none of those are bigger than a cantaloupe. In Manassas I plan to plant the trio of big hostas in much the same way using the two new pots to add to the low blue one planted earlier this summer. This will be a handsome arrangement and easier to care for since they aren't hit with hot sunshine in the summer on the shaded deck and are easily watered. More could be added later if I find time to dig up some of mine and divide them this fall or early next spring.

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