Large Hostas Get the Spotlight
After writing three posts on miniature and small hostas, I thought large hostas deserved their place in the sun (or shade). Although I love miniature hostas, large hostas are also dear to my heart and plentiful in my landscape. I use them both as specimen plants and also for massing with other hostas to fill shady areas. There are so many hosta cultivars out there, over 8,000, that I thought I would share some of my favorites with you. I have included some close ups of their beautiful leaves as well as photos of how I use them in the garden.
I wanted to start with ‘Liberty’ because it was chosen by the American Hosta Grower’s Association as the 2012 Hosta of the Year. This is a great honor bestowed on only 18 of the over 8,000 hosta cultivars (to see other winners, click here), and I make a point of selling them and growing them in my garden. ‘Liberty’ is a sport (off shoot) of ‘Sagae’ with the same vase-shaped habit but much wider creamy yellow margins. It reaches 2′ tall and 5′ wide with 10″ leaves.
‘Striptease’ was the Hosta of the Year for 2005. The white streaks on its leaves really make it stand out—the pattern is rare in the hosta world where many plants look alike. It is a sport of the old favorite ‘Gold Standard’. At maturity, it is 20″ high and 4′ wide with 8″ leaves.
Yes, ‘Paradigm’ is another Hosta of the Year, this time for 2007. Its leaves are gold-centered and heavily corrugated (textured), a quality I love in the hostas that display it. Its near white flowers are also quite lovely. At maturity, it is 2′ high by 4′ wide with almost 12″ leaves. I can’t wait.
I first fell in love with this hosta at Longwood gardens, and it was labeled H. fluctuans ‘Variegata’. I wrote down the name and searched for it for years before I figured out its name was changed to ‘Sagae’. Of course, ‘Sagae’ was chosen to be a Hosta of the Year for 2000. Its upright mounding habit makes it a perfect specimen. At maturity, it reaches 31″ high by 70″ wide with 13″ leaves.
It is hard to explain why I like ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ so much. Perhaps it is the substantial blue-green leaves or the neat and even habit or the lovely fragrant flowers or just its clever name. ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ is not a hosta of the year, but it is the sport of one, ‘Guacamole’, the 2002 Hosta of the Year, and it is considered an exceptional cultivar. It reaches 2′ high by 5′ wide with 11″ leaves.
Finally, a hosta that is not a hosta of the year (or a relative of one), but, as far as I’m concerned, it should be. One of my favorites and a bestseller at my nursery, ‘Great Expectations’ forms a large but not overwhelming mound of heavily corrugated, creamy yellow-centered leaves with wide blue-green margins. Its near white flowers in June and July are beautiful. A mutation of ‘Elegans’, it reaches 2′ high by 4′ wide at maturity with 12″ leaves.
It is not surprising that ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ was the 1998 Hosta of the Year. It is a very useful hosta in the shady landscape because of its overall light-colored leaves, which are pale chartreuse with creamy yellow edges—it looks great with yellow flowers. I also love its fragrant blooms and manageable size. At maturity it is supposed to reach 22″ high by 4′ wide with 10″ leaves but mine are not that big.
‘Blue Angel’ is not a hosta of the year, but it would be the absolute top of the list of my choices. Hostas of the year should be tried and true and the best in their class and that is what ‘Blue Angel’ is. Do you hear me AHGA? It is simply the premier large blue hosta in existence, excellent as a specimen and in masses with other hostas. It is stunning in June and July when topped by its near white flowers and gorgeous throughout the fall with its heavily corrugated, substantial blue leaves. At maturity, ‘Blue Angel’ reaches 32″ high by 70″ wide with 16″ leaves.
I will close with the 2010 Hosta of the Year ‘First Frost’. When it comes out in the spring, the combination of the very blue leaves with the decidedly yellow and very wide margins is unusual and elegant. The leaves have thick substance and turn dark green with a cream edge in summer. ‘First Frost’ is also a “smaller” large hosta and easy to use in the landscape. It is a sport of the wonderful ‘Halycon’. At maturity, it reaches 14″ high by 3′ wide with 7″ leaves.
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