Archive for Hosta ‘Earth Angel’

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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Miniature (& Small) Hostas

Posted in hosta, How to, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 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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'Holy Mouse Ears'‘Holy Mouse Ears’: the miniature hostas in the mouse ears series are my favorites.

I am in stage four of my relationship with hostas.  I have noticed that many of my customers go through these stages too.  Stage one was when I was a new gardener.  I discovered hostas and loved them because they are easy to grow and to divide to make more.  I had the green one, the green and white one, the blue one, the variegated one, and the gold one.  If you know hostas, you can probably guess fairly easily which varieties I had.  I still love these hostas and have large patches of them in my gardens.

‘Lakeside Cupcake’ was a new small hosta for me in 2010 and is a strong grower.

During stage two, I became more “sophisticated”.  Hostas were too easy to grow, too ordinary, and multiplied too quickly for my control-oriented gardening style.  Besides I wanted flowers, flowers, and more flowers, and hostas just didn’t fit the bill.  I didn’t like them anymore.  How could people collect such a boring and ordinary plant?

“Carolyn’s Gold”: I selected this miniature hosta from a chance seedling that appeared in my gardens.  It is the brightest gold I have ever seen.

I rediscovered hostas in stage three when I got beyond flowers and realized how important foliage is to the garden, especially the shade garden.  I learned that hostas did not come in just the five basic varieties but in an infinite number of combinations of colors, heights, widths, leaf shapes, flowers, and habits.  Somewhere I read that there are 6,000 hosta cultivars.  I wanted them all so I began to collect hostas. 

‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the miniature hosta that started the mouse ears family.  Not only is it shaped like a mouse ear, but it feels like one too (all in my imagination because I have never felt a mouse ear).  It was designated the 2008 Hosta of the Year by the American Hosta Growers Association–a very high honor.

I entered stage four about the time that my hosta acquisitions topped 100 cultivars.  This is just a modest assemblage because you really aren’t considered a hosta collector until you have over 500 varieties in your garden.  But I was running out of room.  Besides I am not a true collector of any group of plants because I am not satisfied with one of any perennial in my garden.  I need at least five, but preferably seven, of any plant to make an impact.  Many hostas are quite large, and five ‘Blue Angel’, ‘Sum and Substance’, or ‘Sagae’, which are favorites of mine, with six foot wide clumps and 15″ leaves, take up a lot of room.  Were my collecting days over?

Clockwise from upper left: small ‘Blonde Elf’  and miniatures ‘Little Wonder’, ‘Rock Princess’, and a hosta sold to me as ‘Little Blue’.

That’s when I discovered miniature hostas.  The American Hosta Society defines  miniature hostas as having a leaf no larger than 4 sq. in.   The discovery of miniature hostas allowed me to indulge my passion for collecting hostas, which only got worse in stage four, without taking up all the space in my garden.  And they are so incredibly cute and have such adorable names: ‘Holy Mouse Ears’, ‘Pixie Vamp’, ‘Blonde Elf’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, ‘Alakazaam’, ‘Cookie Crumbs’, ‘Rock Princess’.  How can you resist?

‘Mighty Mouse’ is one of the newer members of the mouse ears family.

I remain firmly mired in stage four and don’t know what comes after it, maybe Hostas Anonymous.  But in the meantime, I want to show you some of my favorite miniatures (see photos above and below) and suggest some ideas for displaying miniature and small hostas.

‘Little Treasure’ is new to me this year and has a unique leaf shape and blue-green color.

Because they are so little, most miniature and small hostas can’t be thrown into the garden willy-nilly but benefit from some planning to show them off.  Many also require specialized growing conditions, but those cultivars don’t survive at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens where nothing gets fussed over.  I display my absolute favorite miniature hostas in their own container to really highlight them.  An added benefit is that  hostas multiply more rapidly in containers:

I have shown this photo of ‘Crumb Cake’ before, but it demonstrates how a single unusual plant in a container can be so pleasing.  ‘Crumb Cake’ and all the other hostas pictured in containers in this post also do well in the ground–a requirement for inclusion at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.


‘Pixie Vamp’: This miniature has elegant mahogany-colored flower scapes that match this container.  I leave all these pots outside all winter.  Hostas overwinter fine as long as their containers can be left outside without cracking.


I think ‘Praying Hands’, the 2011 Hosta of the Year, looks best in a container.  It reminds me of pitcher plants without the hassle of creating a bog.  Pictured here with dwarf Solomon’s seal, Polygonatum humile, another plant that thrives over the winter in containers.


“Carolyn’s Malex Two” is another hosta I selected that grows so slowly in the ground that I have never sold it.  Its position in the top of my antique strawberry pot highlights its delicate coloring and allows it to multiply faster than it would in the ground.


The straight species Hosta tokudama has the bluest leaves of any hosta and lives in this terra cotta container on my porch.


You don’t necessarily have to buy containers for your hostas.  ‘Hanky Panky’, a very unusually colored small hosta, has grown for years in my old dogwood stump.


‘Alakazaam’ has found a home in the chiseled out knot hole of a weathered sycamore branch.  My youngest son crafted this “container” for me for Mother’s Day.


Several miniature hostas can be combined in a larger container:

This dish, which I leave out all winter even though it is terra cotta (don’t do this at home!), contains the miniatures  (clockwise from upper left) ‘Cracker Crumbs’, ‘Shiny Penny’, and ‘Shining Tot’ with ‘Praying Hands’, sedum, hens and chicks, rosularia, and miniature dianthus.


My antique strawberry pot has 16 pockets with a different miniature hosta in each one.  Pictured are (top row left to right) ‘Cameo’, ‘Cracker Crumbs’, and ‘Twist of Lime’, (middle row) ‘Little Blue’, ‘Shining Tot’, and ‘Porter’, and (bottom row) ‘Shiny Penny’, ‘Hope, and “Carolyn’s Tiny Gold”.


My husband gave me this antique trough for our anniversary.  It is a perfect setting for my mouse ears collection.  Pictured are (front left to right) ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ and ‘Mouse Trap’, (center) ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, and (back) ‘Green Mouse Ears’, ‘Mighty Mouse’, and ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’, all with dwarf Solomon’s seal.


Hostas thrive between rocks and in rock gardens:

The 2010 Hosta of the Year ‘First Frost’ in my rock garden with (left to right) variegated money plant (Lunaria annua ‘Alba Variegata’), Helleborus cyclophyllus, and yellow wax-bells (Kirengoshoma palmata).


‘Little Aurora’ (upper left) and ‘Cookie Crumbs’ (lower right) in my rock garden with (left to right) ‘Red Lady’ hellebores (Helleborus x hybridus ‘Red Lady’), pink violets (Viola species), and spring-blooming hardy cyclamen (Cyclamen coum).


Miniature and small hostas can be massed for maximum effect and to create groundcover:

‘Kabitan’ (lower right) massed with (left to right) ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’, 2009 Hosta of the Year ‘Earth Angel’, Spanish bluebells (Scilla campanulata ‘Excelsior’), yellow corydalis (Corydalis lutea), and fern-leafed corydalis (Corydalis cheilanthifolia).


“Carolyn’s Gold” (lower left) and ‘Lemon Lime’ (upper right) used as groundcover.


‘Twist of Lime’ (lower right) massed with (left to right) sweet violet (Viola odorata), red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum), and ‘Fantasy Island’.


I hope I have given you some good ideas for using miniature and small hostas in your garden.  I would be very interested to hear in a comment/reply which miniatures you like and how you use them.

Carolyn

For two more articles on hostas, click here:

Larger 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.

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