Posted in plant pieces

Here come the Hostas

As a child I was too impatient to wait and see what the fuchsia bud would reveal and so I would prematurely pop them! With some of that same eagerness in Spring, I’ll scrape the gravel topping in the hosta pots, to seek out the first signs of them putting their snouts above the soil.

purple sheathed hosta ‘snouts’ in mid-April

Once they first appear, hostas soon rush to unsheath their spiral-bound leaves and they do so with a great deal of elegance, which is why I like to keep my few potted hostas within eyesight so I can appreciate the changes.

Another reason to keep hostas potted is that the opportunistic gastropods will find it harder to reach them, especially as mine are situated on gravel. Even early in the year there is one type ready and waiting for hostas to emerge:

In late winter/early spring the keeled slug migrates towards the surface of the soil where it can do untold damage to emerging shoots and leaves. ~ British Hosta Society

I first happened upon Hostas when tending a mostly shade garden and they were an ideal and obvious planting choice. Those with gold pigmentation however tolerate more sun and more sun means more flowers. The glaucous leaved though are bluer in the shade so it all depends on what we want from our hostas. What they want most from us is plentiful, regular, summer feeds and watering. Too often they are relegated to dry shade corners, their tongued leaves full of holes and simply gasping.

Foliage is mostly why we treasure these Plantain Lily plants, although there’s the added bonus of slender spikes of blooms, bell, funnel or star-shaped, in pretty pastels from white through to lilac. And with such accessible stamens, they attract pollen crunching pollinators too.

hoverfly on hosta flower – summer 2020

Before leaving London I cashed up hostas ‘Halcyon’ and H. Fortunei Hyacinthina at a summer fair and replaced them in my new home with the variegated ‘Patriot‘, ‘Dream Queen‘ a tetraploid (double the normal chromosomes) with thicker, tougher, more slug resistant leaves plus a nameless all green one from a local plant sale. And a gardener who was dividing some big blue varieties gave me one that he thought was ‘Big Daddy‘.

There are about 25 species of hostas. Most originate from Japan and are called Giboshi.

Different species grow in different environments – some grow near water around rivers and swamps, some in flat fields, while others find a little dirt in cracks and cling on mountain sides”. Hosta Collecting in Japan

With so much hybridizing since, there are now hundreds of garden varieties with all sorts of fanciful names. My ambition is to try and obtain one or two originals and savour them for my upcoming Japanese style garden. But whatever their species origins, hostas with their restrained colour palette are perfect plants for this theme.

Further Reading:
Hosta species update ~ W. George Schmid

Posted in gardener's jottings

Sleuthing in April

β€œApril splinters like an ice palace.” – Ruth Stone

Ever the over-optimistic gardener, I was set back by mid-April’s hailstorms and overnight frosts but watchful of the weather forecasts. And hence the planting out of some young nemesias and sweet peas I’d purchased was delayed until now. Only an established Rhodanthemum just coming in to bloom had to literally weather the storms and is looking rather aghast at the experience.

Moroccan daisy ‘Casablanca’ soldiering on

Perhaps because of a preference for botanical names I had overlooked this frost tender plant. The clue is in the common name – Moroccan daisies! Fortunately, one of the advantages of a potted garden is that clustered together they do give each other extra shelter. I could though have popped it into the poly greenhouse had I given it some thought.

With reference to botanical nomenclature I’ve recently purchased the RHS “Latin for Gardeners” but feel it is not as comprehensive as it might be. Why for example is Rhodanthenum hosmariensi not mentioned?

I had to search via ‘tinternet’ instead and find the name derives from Greek: rose+flower (though it looks more like daisy to us rose growers). The ‘hosmariensi’ part turned up no info but this variety ‘Casablanca’ (tr white+house) is patented (see HERE) by a couple called White and hence the flower colour? πŸ˜‰

Following on from the last post “Tis the season for Semps“, I overhauled the whole succulent potagerie! Fresh grit and soil (JI#3) and some new Sempervivums to fill the gaps. This led me to ponder the few Sedums I have there too. They’ve now been added to the register which involved more sleuthing as 2 or 3 were given to me as nameless wonders.

Since many hardy sedums (aka stonecrops) are small, I recommend taking close-up shots to ID as images on the internet are often macros which gives a distorted perspective as to what the plant looks like as a whole. This tiny one eludes me for now.

?sedum album ‘murale’

If anyone can help please click the image below for a closer view, and leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Anyway, enough of sleuthing. Despite the planned move later this year, I’ve been buying more plants. Ludicrous though that may seem it makes good sense because I’ll be changing to a different garden style. Thus, some of my plants I shall leave behind or give away, even some of my favourite Salvias as it is not colour impact I want anymore. Besides, full sun is at a premium there.

This compact Forsythia (‘Mikador‘) earns a place in the new garden because, despite its popping colour, it still fits the theme and the new setting.

The genus ‘forsythia’ has no reference to Latin but is named after one of the RHS founders – William Forsyth (1737–1804), a Scottish botanist and royal head gardener. And to quote Forest Gump: “that’s all I have to say about that”… or anything else for now.

Take a scrolling stroll through the potted garden in april