Whereas hostas are grown primarily for their spectacular foliage, I always look forward to the blooms which are usually set in early summer. Now, while most of the hostas in the neighborhood seem to be getting ready to rest until next spring, ours, though looking stressed out from the summer heat, have put forth the most unique flower stocks: tall and strong, each topped with whorls of huge pure white buds which once open look like tuberose flowers, and very fragrant, too. Also, the buds open in succession, so the show goes on for some time. In fact, as I am preparing this column, fully mature flower buds are ready to burst open anytime, ending the wait soon.
Perhaps one of the most popular perennials for a shade garden, hostas are prized for their foliage which comes in many shades of green as well as blue, and, from plain to variegated. A gardener, therefore, has a number of options to incorporate them in the landscape such as line a border, around trees or even in containers.
A nice resource to lean upon, if in a fix as to which ones to start with, is the list of the recipients of the “Hosta of the Year” award given each year by the American Hosta Grower’s Association. For example, this year’s winner is “Rainforest Sunrise,” for 2012 it was “Liberty,” and the one for 2014 has quite an interesting name: “Abiqua Drinking Gourd!”
Though I haven’t had the opportunity of growing most award winners, I do have “Blue Mouse Ears”(2008), a delightful pint-sized variety with bluish-green foliage growing in a pot.
Hostas are fairly easy to grow; however, if one would like to know pretty much all there is to know about this versatile perennial, a nice book to turn to is compiled and edited by Paul Aden, aptly titled The Hosta Book. Furnished with details to educate a beginner or an expert, the book has several pages of colored pictures along with description of the varieties recommended. Interestingly, the editor has gone a step further in including a whole chapter – illustrations and all – on using the leaves and blooms to create very artistic designs. But if getting involved in this art does not sound very appealing, just grab an ordinary vase, throw in a handful of leaves and there you have it: a simple yet elegant arrangement everyone will rave about!