Archive for Hosta ‘Pixie Vamp’

Top 5 Favorite Little Hostas

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2015 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Hosta 'Sparkler'‘Sparkler’ might make it to my favorite minis list because of its beautiful colors and unusual habit, but I am not sure it meets the American Hosta Society’s definition of miniature.  Available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens (CSG).

With the latest issue of its journal, the American Hosta Society sent its members a form asking them to vote for their 10 favorite “regular” hostas and 5 favorite minis.  In my post Top 10 Favorite Larger Hostas,  I showed photos of some of my favorites.  Click here to read it.   If you are curious, here are my final picks:

1. Blue Mouse Ears
2. Blue Angel
3. Sagae
4. Eye Declare
5. El Nino
6. Crumb Cake
7. Paradise Joyce
8. Praying Hands
9. H. nigrescens
10. Stained Glass

Nursery News:  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 'Little Treasure'‘Little Treasure’ may also be too big to be a mini but would be on my top 10 little hostas list because of its amazing blue color and lovely presentaion.  Available at CSG.

When my husband saw my post and my list, he commented that there was a lesson to be learned from it: if you see a hosta you like, buy it because it probably won’t be available next year. There are so many new hostas being introduced every year that many great cultivars are no longer sold.  Of my top 10 larger hostas, I was only able to sell 4 this year.  That’s why for this post I have once again indicated which little hostas are currently available at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens.

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Hosta 'Moon Shadow'‘Moon Shadow’ may also be too big to get a vote, but I love its colors.  Available at CSG.

So what is the definition of a miniature hosta?  The American Hosta Society defines miniature hostas by their leaf size.  The leaf blade area, length x width, can be no greater than 6 square inches.  Clump spread is irrelevant.  That is why ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ heads my larger hosta list: its leaves are too big to qualify as a mini.  Here are a few more that are on my favorite little hostas list but don’t make it to the final five:

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Hosta 'Appletini'‘Appletini’, definitely a “little” and not a mini, has breathtaking spring color and shiny gold leaves through the season.  Available at CSG in 2016.

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Hosta 'Baby Bunting'‘Baby Bunting’s’ leaves look huge here, but they are tiny, cute, and blue in my miniature hosta rock garden.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Stiletto'‘Stiletto’s’ long, narrow leaves with wavy edges also make it stand out.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Faithful Heart'‘Faithful Heart’  has such an unusual look.  The smooth leaves come out solid gold and gradually develop a distinct green edge over the course of at least a month—very fun.  Shown here in my strawberry pot.  Available at CSG.

Now for the final five—the hostas that got my vote in the American Hosta Society poll for favorite minis:

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Hosta 'Twist of Lime'At number five, ‘Twist of Lime’  makes my list because its leaves are beautiful, it is very easy to grow, and it spreads nicely to make a lovely groundcover.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Pixie Vamp'At number four, ‘Pixie Vamp’ has everything going for it: great colors, elegant habit, adorable name, and look at those dark mahogany flower stems—a real standout.  Unfortunately no longer available but I am searching.

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Hosta 'Dragon Tails'

The photo says it all about number three ‘Dragon Tails’.  Wouldn’t a dragon have a tail like that?  Absolutely adorable!  Available at CSG in 2016.

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Hosta 'Mighty Mouse'

You could have predicted that a Mouse Ears hosta would be in my top five.  I have chosen ‘Mighty Mouse’ because it is readily available, grows well in pots and the ground, has a really cute name, and epitomizes the Mouse Ears form.  Available at CSG.

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Hosta 'Cracker Crumbs'I could have chosen so many minis to be in my top five and all the finalists could be number one.  It’s like being asked to pick your favorite child.  However, I ended the agonizing and picked ‘Cracker Crumbs’ as number one.  Its shiny gold leaves with blue-green edges are beautiful, it has a great look both as a specimen and as a groundcover, it’s easy to grow, and it is readily available “in the trade”.  None of the other four combine all these characteristics.  Available at CSG.

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I hope you have enjoyed my little hosta roundup.  If you would like to read more about little hostas, click on any of the following links:

The Mice Have Multiplied Again

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 2

New Miniature and Small Hostas for 2014, Part 1

New Mice for 2014

2013 New Miniature and Small Hostas

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

I LOVE Mice

Beyond Mice

Hostas Containers and Companions

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Carolyn

Nursery Happenings: The 2015 Miniature Hosta Availability for mail order and pick up at the nursery is here.   Our final big spring sale, featuring miniature hostas and summer and fall blooming shade plants is Saturday, May 30, from 10 am to 3 pm.  Customers on our list have gotten an email with all the details.  You can sign up to receive emails by sending your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a local retail nursery in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b/7a. The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Facebook: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post. You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

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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Pleasurable Pairings for Early Summer Part 2

Posted in hosta, miniature hosta, my garden, native plants, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 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.

Spigelia marilandica Indian pink, Spigelia marilandica, is one of the highlights of my garden in June.  I would like to have a field of this wonderful, hummingbird-attracting native.

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My post Pleasurable Pairings for Spring profiles plant combinations in my garden in April 2011.  To read it, click here.  I am continuing this theme with two posts on pleasing plant pairs for early summer.  My house is on a south-facing slope, and the first post showed the gardens on the west side of the house.  To read it, click here.  Combinations from the east side of the house are in this post.

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Carolyn's Shade GardensThe view up the slope on the east side of the house.  All the grass has been removed and replaced by garden beds and pine needle paths.

The gardens on the east side are fairly colorful when all the hellebores, snowdrops, primroses, pulmonarias, and other early perennials are blooming.  However, by late spring, they become a much more subtle tapestry composed mainly of the leaves of hostas, epimediums, hellebores, and ferns.  I love it, but it is more difficult to capture in photos than the colorful flowers on the west side.  I wish you could all see it in person, but here is my best shot.

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Carolyn's Shade GardensThe view down the slope.

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Carolyn's Shade GardensLooking into the woods through the upper entrance with ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ hosta on the left.

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Hosta El NinoIvory and blue ‘El Nino’ hosta really brightens up the shade, here with white bigleaf hardy geranium.

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Brunnera 'Dawson's White', Heuchera 'Green Spice', Hosta TopazMore plants in my silver and blue garden, clockwise from upper left: hellebores, ‘Topaz’ hosta, native ‘Green Spice’ coralbells, and ‘Dawson’s White’ brunnera.

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Hosta 'Krossa Regal'‘Krossa Regal’ hosta’s frosty blue leaves and vase-shaped habit set it apart from other hostas.

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Hosta 'Sum and Substance', Podophyllum peltatum‘Sum and Substance’ hosta in the woodland with mayapples and golden groundsel.

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Spigelia marilandica, Hosta Summer Lovin', Haknoechloa 'All Gold'This shows how I use the native Indian pink featured at the start of the post.  Clockwise from upper left: ‘All Gold’ Japanese hakone grass, ‘Little Blue’ pulmonaria, native sedge, hellebores, Hylomecon japonicum (no common name), ‘Citronelle’ coralbells, Indian pink, and ‘Summer Lovin’ hosta.

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Hosta 'summer Lovin', Hakonechloa 'All Gold'‘Summer Lovin’ hosta and ‘All Gold’ Japanese hakone grass make a great pair.

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Hosta 'Eye Declare', Heuchera 'Stained Glass'Hosta ‘Eye Declare’ and ‘Stainless Steel’ coralbells, one of the brighter combinations on the east side of the house at this time of year.

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Aruncus aethusifolius, Hosta JuneFerny-leafed dwarf goatsbeard with ‘June’ hosta

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Hosta 'Guacamole', Hosta 'Blue Angel'Customers often ask me which hostas go together, and my answer is they all do: ‘Guacamole’ and ‘Blue Angel’.

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miniature hosta rock gardenLooking down the hill over my newest installation, a miniature hosta rock garden.  I needed a dedicated area to display my collection.

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miniature hosta rock gardenA view of the miniature hosta rock garden from below.

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lady fern, Hosta 'Teaspoon', Hosta 'Remember Me'Dwarf lady fern, ‘Teaspoon’ hosta, and ‘Remember Me’ hosta on the right.

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DSCN0404‘Pixie Vamp’ hosta with Sedum lydium and ‘Rock Prince’ hosta.

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Hosta 'Blonde Elf', lady fern, Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears'‘Blonde Elf’ hosta, dwarf lady fern, and ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta

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I hope you enjoyed Part 2.

Carolyn

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Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, U.S., zone 6b.  The only plants that we mail order are snowdrops and miniature hostas and only within the US.

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.

Nursery Happenings:  The nursery closes for the summer on June 15 and will reopen in the fall around September 15.  Have a great summer.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook Page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

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.

Beyond Mice

Posted in container gardening, containers for shade, hosta, miniature hosta, Shade Gardening, Shade Perennials with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 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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Hosta 'Crumb Cake'I have used this photo of hosta ‘Crumb Cake’ emerging in spring before, but to me it epitomizes the beauty of a miniature hosta in a container.

My nursery specializes in miniature hostas, and I have over 25 varieties available right now, both at the nursery and mail order.  My 2011 post Miniature (& Small) Hostas gives an overview of little hostas and how to use them in the garden.  In my most recent post, I LOVE Mice, I raved about the mouse ears series of hostas.  But there are many desirable miniature hostas “beyond mice” so I thought I would highlight some special favorites.

 

‘Cracker Crumbs’ is pictured here in my dish garden (full photo below) surrounded by a tiny gray-blue sedum.  It is a miniature hosta 5” tall by 19” wide with leaves 2 1/2” long by 1 1/2” wide.  ‘Cracker Crumbs’ has shiny gold leaves with a bright green wavy margin and pale purple flowers in July.  It quickly forms a dense and rounded mound and makes a great trough or rock garden plant.


‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ is also pictured in my dish garden (full photo below) with the same sedum and some hens and chickens.  It is a miniature hosta 2 ½” tall by 6” wide with leaves 1 ¾” long by 1 1/4″ wide.  ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ has narrow leaves with thick substance and a distinct blue-gray color, and pale lavender flowers in July.  It forms a tight low mound.  This adorable and rare plant is the smallest hosta in my collection.


‘Pixie Vamp’ in my rock garden—what a great name!

‘Pixie Vamp’ is pictured here in a container with violas.  It is a miniature hosta 7” tall by 16” wide with leaves 3 ½” long by 2 ½” wide.  ‘Pixie Vamp’ has bright green heart-shaped leaves bordered by gold in the spring changing to creamy white.  Its gorgeous mahogany colored stems hold purple flowers in July.  It is excellent in containers.


The very unusual hosta ‘Crumb Cake’ in my rock garden.


‘Crumb Cake’ is pictured here fully emerged in the same container featured in the first photo in this post.  It is a miniature hosta 5” high by 14” wide with leaves 3” long by 3” wide.  ‘Crumb Cake’ is a recent introduction with very bright honey-gold leaves, which are round with wavy margins.  It is a very unusual looking hosta forming a flat, dense, brightly colored mound.  It has elegant mahogany-colored leaf and flower stems and lavender flowers in July.  It makes an excellent container plant.


‘Alakazaam’ in my rock garden.


‘Alakazaam’ is pictured here in a container made for me by my son.  It is a miniature hosta 5″ tall by 10″ wide with leaves 6 1/2″ long and 3/4″ wide.  ‘Alakazaam’ has bright green leaves with gold ruffled margins changing to creamy white, and lavender flowers in late summer.  Its unusual spiky habit makes it stand out from the crowd no matter where you place it.


‘Surfer Girl’ is pictured here in my rock garden.  It is a miniature hosta 6” tall by 18” wide with leaves 2” long by 1” wide.  ‘Surfer Girl’ has dark green, sharply pointed, deeply rippled leaves reminiscent of ocean waves, and purple flowers in July.  It creeps to fill in a wide area and is excellent for edging the front of a border.  I use it in containers to contrast with gold-leafed minis.


‘Little Sunspot’ in my rock garden. 

‘Little Sunspot’ is pictured here in my strawberry pot.  It is a small hosta 12″ tall by 12″ wide with leaves 3″ long and 2″ wide.  It has sharply contrasting variegated gold leaves with a wide  dark green margin and purple-striped white flowers in summer.  ‘Little Sunspot’ is great for a rock garden, border, or a container.


‘Twist of Lime’ in my rock garden.

‘Twist of Lime’ is pictured here massed in front of epimediums.  It is a miniature hosta 6” tall by 10” wide with leaves 3” long by 1” wide.  ‘Twist of Lime’ has bright gold leaves with a narrow, dark blue-green wavy margin and many deep violet-striped flowers in July.  It has a beautiful upright habit and is a very fast grower—a favorite of my customers.

‘Praying Hands’ is pictured here in a container with violas and dwarf Solomon’s seal.  It is a small hosta 16″ tall by 30″ wide with leaves 7″ long and 2″ wide.  ‘Praying Hands’ has waxy and prominently ridged dark emerald green leaves with a narrow gold edge.  It is the most unusual hosta on the market with its folded leaves and vertical, twisty habit reminiscent of a pitcher plant.  It thrives in containers with my plant doubling in size each year.  ‘Praying Hands’ received the prestigious Hosta of the Year Award in 2011.

‘Praying Hands’ provides a vertical accent in my dish garden with miniature hostas ‘Shiny Penny’, ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’, ‘Cracker Crumbs’, and ‘Shining Tot’ and various companion plants.

Miniature hostas are so much fun.  My next post will be on my new miniature hosta rock garden and feature companion plants to use in containers with your little hostas.

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.

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens has a Facebook page where I post single photos, garden tips, and other information that doesn’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

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.

Hostas for Fall

Posted in Fall, Fall Color, hosta, landscape design with tags , , , , , , , on October 17, 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 'Remember Me'Hosta ‘Remember Me’ looks absolutely spectacular in the fall when its colors deepen and its pristine leaves shine.  All photos were taken at Carolyn’s Shade Gardens this fall.  Click any photo to enlarge.

In my last two articles, A Few Fall Favorites for Foliage and Fruit and A Few Fall Favorites for Flowers, I explained that, inspired by an article about dressing up your fall garden with mums because everything else is finished, I grabbed my camera and headed outside to prove them wrong.  There was so much going on that I divided the plants into three posts: foliage and fruit, flowers, and hostas.  This is part three highlighting hostas.

When you choose a hosta for your garden, I am guessing you are not going for this look in fall.

One reason I started what I like to call my free, on line, shade gardening magazine (AKA blog) was to force myself to document my gardening knowledge in photographs and print.  This article is a perfect example.  Every fall I walk around my gardens saying: “I really should photograph the hostas that still look good in the fall,” but I never do it.  This information is very important when choosing hostas especially if you have a small garden and can’t afford to allocate space to a plant that provides no ornamental value for one third of the season like the specimens in the photo above.  So, for the record, here are some of the hostas dressing up my shady gardens right now:

I don’t expect my hostas to look perfect in the fall, although some do.  Even though ‘Frances Williams’ is slightly tattered, its bold colors and stately habit make it a winner in my fall garden.

There is another very important point I would like to make about hostas.  New is not the equivalent of better or even good.  Gardeners will often remark about a hosta like ‘Frances Williams’, which was first registered in 1986, that it is an old hosta with the implication that we should have all moved on by now.  If I had to, I would gladly trade in many of my newer hostas for a plant as unique in habit, leaf shape, and color as ‘Frances Williams’ (even with its tendency to brown slightly at the edges).  The breeders have yet to come up with a new hosta this beautiful and tough.


Like all blue-leaved hostas, Hosta ‘Blue Umbrellas’ turns greener in the fall, but who cares when it looks like this?

Thanks to my commenter Louise Thompson for mentioning slug resistance.  One of the primary reasons that these hostas look so good in the fall is that they are resistant to slugs.  Most of them tend to have thicker leaves that just hold up better to whatever nature throws at them.  Please read my reply to Louise for information about controlling slugs.  I don’t do anything to control slugs except plant resistant hostas. 

Talk about perfect, Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’.

Hosta ‘El Nino’ in my silver and blue garden.  If you want to see what it looks like in June, click here.

Hosta ‘Stained Glass’, which was the Hosta of the Year for 2006, just glows in the fall.  One way to choose really good hostas is to select cultivars chosen as hosta of the year by the American Hosta Growers Association.  There are over 6,000 (some say 10,000) hosta cultivars out there, and only 17 have received this honor.  I grow 13 of the winners, and they certainly deserved to be chosen.  To see all the winners, click here.

Another “old” hosta, ‘Blue Angel’ was registered in 1986 and, in my opinion, is the best large blue cultivar–outstanding habit, leaves, and white flowers.  It is the parent of ‘Earth Angel’, the 2009 Hosta of the Year.

The long-lasting gold leaves of Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’, the 2004 Hosta of the Year, can reach 2 feet across while the clump can exceed 6 feet in width.

Hosta ‘June’ was the 2001 Hosta of the Year and is the favorite hosta of my nursery customers.  ‘Remember Me’ in the top photo is one of its “children”.

Hosta ‘Halcyon’ registered in 1988, is a beautiful medium-sized blue hosta (aging to green in the fall), but it is also important as the parent of ‘June’, ‘El Nino’, and ‘Paradise Joyce’, among other wonderful cultivars.

Most gold-leaved hostas turn green in the fall, but not ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’.

Hosta ‘Praying Hands’, the 2011 Hosta of the Year, will stay outside in this ceramic container all winter.  I find that ‘Praying Hands’ multiplies much faster in a container than in the ground.


Hosta ‘Paul’s Glory’, the 1999 Hosta of the Year, also looks best in the fall when its bright colors light up the shade.

Hosta ‘Inniswood’ is a 1993 gold-leafed introduction that puts many newer cultivars to shame.

There are many more medium and large hostas that I could have featured as ornamental in the fall including my favorite, Hosta tokudama and all its cultivars.  For more information on larger hostas and how to use them, click here.

Now for some fall stars among the miniatures, my current hosta passion.  For more information on miniature hostas and how to incorporate them into your garden, click here.

If you have read my article on Miniature Hostas, you know I am a sucker for the Mouse Ears series, here Hosta ‘Mighty Mouse’.

Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ is the 2008 Hosta of the Year.

Hosta ‘Little Sunspot’ is growing in one of the 16 pouches in my strawberry jar.  One look at this collection will show you that all miniatures are not created equal in terms of their fall appearance.

All my hosta containers, including this pot of Hosta ‘Pixie Vamp’, will stay out all winter.

Like all plants, hostas should be chosen to provide ornamental value from the time they come up in the spring until frost.  You can choose any of the hostas above for your garden and be confident of a long season of interest.

Carolyn

This is the third article I have written on hostas.  The first two are:

Miniature (& Small) Hostas

Larger Hostas

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.

Nursery Happenings: The nursery is closed for the year.  Look for the snowdrop catalogue (snowdrops are available mail order) in January 2012 and an exciting new hellebore offering in February 2012.  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.

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


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