Archive for the container gardening Category

I LOVE Mice

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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'Holy Mouse Ears'It is very hard for me to pick a favorite mouse ears hosta, but I think ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ is it.  The colors in the leaves are magical.

My post Miniature (& Small) Hostas is the most popular article I have ever written for my blog.  In that post, I described how, when I discovered miniature hostas, I reached a new level of hosta addiction.  I try not to purchase (five of) every new miniature hosta I can get my hands on, but it’s a struggle.  Luckily my nursery allows me to mask this addiction as “business development”.  Now I specialize in miniature hostas, and mail order them all over the US.

 

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the parent of all the miniature hostas in the mouse ears clan.  It is so special that in 2008, the American Hosta Growers Association named it the Hosta of the Year.

The miniature hosta that really took me over the edge was ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.  It was definitely love at first sight.  I fell for the very blue, very round, very rubbery leaves and the perfectly symmetrical habit.  When ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ emerges from the ground, it is in a cluster so tight it looks like a rose.  It reaches about 6″ in height and scoffs at the idea of slugs as do all the mouse ears hostas.  Most days I stop on my garden ramble to touch its thick leaves.  To me they feel like mouse ears, not that I have ever felt one.

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ emerging in the spring.


‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is a descendant of ‘Blue Cadet’, which is a beautiful small blue hosta with very clean leaves and an elegant habit.  Boy was I in trouble though, because ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ was only the beginning.    As is the nature of hostas, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ has given rise to a whole family of little mice.  All of them are between 5 and 8″ tall and form a clump about 12″ wide.  Technically, some of them get slightly larger than what the “authorities” consider mini.  Their unique characteristics are their very round rubbery leaves and their symmetrical habits.  However, I may be prejudiced by my love of mice, but I think these little gems have some of the best leaf colors of any hostas on the market.

‘Mouse Trap’ is one of the newer mice to hit the market.  Its bright white leaves with a blue-green border are striking.

Naturally I had to have all the mouse ears hostas in my collection, and my quest began.  I now have seven mice and have located a source for two more, ‘Royal Mouse Ears’ and ‘Calico Mouse Ears’, which I will be ordering shortly.  While researching this post, I found a Rutgers University site with the hysterical name of Hosta Garden Mouse Index.  The photos are not very good, but it seems to list all the mouse ears hostas available.  Apparently my quest will last a while longer.

Photos of three of my mice appear above, and here are the remaining four:

I think ‘Mighty Mouse’ has the cutest name in the mouse ears series.


This early spring photo of ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ does not do it justice.  It matures to a dark green leaf with a wide white margin.


‘Green Mouse Ears’ is the smallest in the family with very shiny, thick bright green leaves.  Don’t you want to touch it?


‘Mouse Tracks’ is my latest acquisition, and I love its tie dye swirls of yellow, green, and blue.  It is a child of ‘Mighty Mouse’ and very rare.

I haven’t mentioned one of the wonderful features of the mouse ears hostas, their flowers.  Instead of having the long, dangly, out-of-proportion flowers that are produced by some miniatures, the mice have short, fat flowers in proportion to their size as illustrated by the photo below.  I grow them for their flowers too, which is something I can’t say about most hostas.

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‘Holy Mouse Ears’ in bloom

Of course my mice deserved a special place in the garden where touring customers could view them up close and admire their cuteness (is that a word?).  What better place than the trough that my husband gave me for our anniversary.  My mice nest happily there:

‘Green Mouse Ears’ upper left, ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ middle, ‘Mighty Mouse’ middle right, ‘Mouse Trap’ lower left, ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ lower right.  The companion plants are dwarf Solomon’s seal and miniature lady fern.


The whole mouse ears family.

It is easy to add mice to your garden, and they will bring a smile to your face for the whole season.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens specializes in miniature hostas.  I have 25 varieties available at my nursery right now.  I am thinking of starting a mail order business for miniatures.  If you would like to mail order some this year and help me test out my plan, click here (US only).

Carolyn

Nursery Happenings:  If you are interested in receiving miniature hostas mail order, click here.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

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Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

Larger Hostas

Posted in container gardening, hosta, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

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Hosta Teeny-weeny Bikini' at Carolyn's Shade GardensHosta ‘Teeny-weeny Bikini’: I couldn’t resist including one more miniature.

In my recent article Miniature (& Small) Hostas, I explained my evolving relationship with hostas and how my collecting tendencies had led me to miniature hostas for space reasons.  I display these little treasures in special ways in containers, in my rock garden, or as groundcover in order to highlight their small stature.  However, for specimen plants and variety of leaf color, there is nothing like a larger hosta.  They come in an an infinite number of combinations of colors, heights, widths, leaf shapes, flowers, and habits.  There is a medium to large hosta for every garden condition, both as the star of the show and a lovely backdrop for your other perennials and shrubs.  In this article, I want to highlight some of my favorite larger hostas as well as some cultivars that are new to me.

Mature Hosta tokudama ‘Flavocircinalis

Leaf of mature ‘Flavocircinalis’

Before I get to the plants, however, I want to explain something that took me a while to figure out.  Larger leaf hostas do not look like themselves in a nursery pot because they take one to two years to mature and reach their full size and coloration.  Immature plants will have different shaped leaves, usually pointed, and will not display the intricate color patterns that you can expect on the plant in your garden.   Compare the photos of Hosta tokudama ‘Flavocircinalis’ above and below. That is why at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens, I always encourage customers to look at the mature hostas in the display gardens before making their choices.

Immature plant of ‘Flavocircinalis’

Immature leaf of ‘Flavocircinalis’

Here is a taste of some of my favorite and best-selling larger hostas.  You can view well established specimens of these cultivars in my display gardens:

Hosta ‘June’ was the American Hosta Growers Association 2001 Hosta of the Year with good reason and is the most popular hosta with my customers.

The beautiful leaf coloration of ‘June’.

‘First Frost’ is the 2010 Hosta of the Year.

The leaves of ‘First Frost’ emerge with bright yellow leaf margins, which age to cream (in photo above) and set off its very blue center.

‘Great Expectaions’ is my second biggest selling hosta and has one of the most beautiful habits of any large hosta.

The elegant leaf coloration of ‘Great Expectations’.

‘Earth Angel’ is the 2009 Hosta of the Year and is as large and glorious as its parent ‘Blue Angel’ but with a cream margin.

‘Earth Angel’ is the first giant blue hosta with a contrasting border.  The leaves can reach 18″ x 12″ and a specimen can be 5′ wide.

Hosta tokudama is my favorite of all species hostas and ‘Aureonebulosa’ is my favorite cultivar of the many tokudama offspring.

The cupped and heavily puckered texture of  ‘Aureonebulosa’ is typical of the tokudama group.

‘Fragrant Bouquet’ is the 1998 Hosta of the Year and has fragrant flowers.

‘Fragrant Bouquet’s’ light green leaves really stand out in the shade, and it retains its yellow margins all season.

When I visit hosta collections and displays, some plants always stand out.  I look for these plants in the trade to add to my own gardens and offer to my customers.  Here are some of the cultivars I was able to add this year:

‘Touch of Class’ is a close relative of ‘June’ but with a wide blue border enclosing a central gold stripe.  It has an excellent habit and great slug resistance.

‘Liberty’ is the Hosta of the Year for 2012.  You can see both the yellow coloration of its new leaves and the wide cream margins of its older leaves in the photo above.  For a great shot of its coloration, see both the header and wordless Wednesday photo at Pat and Jim’s Gardening Adventure.

‘Paradigm’ is the 2007 Hosta of the Year.  For a much better photo of its leaves and habit, check out these photos of all the Hostas of the Year, by clicking here.  The American Hosta Growers Association has only picked 17 hostas to be Hosta of the Year out of an estimated 6,000 hosta cultivars in the trade so this accolade is quite a meaningful honor.

‘Fragrant Queen’ is a fragrant hosta boasting very substantial rounded leaves with wide white margins.

I have coveted ‘Brother Stefan’ every time I have seen it.  For a much better photo, showing its coloration, texture, and habit, click here.

Just a few ideas for using larger hostas in your garden:

Left to right: ‘Flavocircinalis’, the species H. tokudama, and ‘June’ massed in front of a Japanese holly.

Left to right: ‘Frances Williams’, ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, ‘Kabitan’, and ‘Earth Angel’.

‘Great Expectations’ displayed as a specimen with other hostas, ferns, epimediums, violets, and hardy geraniums.

A specimen ‘Fragrant Bouquet’ with yellow waxbells, hardy gernaium, and ‘Luxuriant’ bleeding-heart.

A simple but elegant container planting at Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina.

A rare Hosta tokudama by itself in a container on my front porch.

Colorful foliage is a fun and essential part of the shade garden.  I hope I have introduced you to some new and intriguing larger hostas that you can add to your shade.

Carolyn

For two more articles on hostas, click here:

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

Hostas for Fall

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here

When I want information about hostas, I go to the Hosta Library and My Hosta Database to find photos and comprehensive written descriptions.  I have added both these sites to my sidebar under Plant Information so you will always be able to find them.

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