Happy Hostas

A cool, wet start to May has been just what the hostas ordered. Plants in our London garden are emerging lush and leafy, so far untroubled by slugs and snails. The latter are notable by their absence, but I refrain from commenting too loudly lest they hear me and come slithering back. I believe it may be thanks to the increasing number of garden birds which we are attracting, including wrens, tits, robins, blackbirds, starlings, jays, magpies and wood pigeons.

After a minor spending spree with Bowdens Hostas at last year’s Chelsea Flower Show, we now have a total of fourteen different cultivars in our small garden. They are mostly planted in clumps of three in the ground or in large pots; go for larger drifts of five or seven if you have the space. Hostas are perfectly suited to the limited conditions we can offer: lightly shaded, sheltered and with permanently damp, fertile soil. Add lots of organic matter if you have dry or light soil conditions.

Here are some of my favourites:

Hosta 'Patriot', London May 2014

Number one is Hosta ‘Patriot’ (above), a strong growing, white-margined variety which is hard to beat and good enough to eat (and the Japanese do, referring to it as Urui). New shoots emerge violet purple and are impressive in themselves. Planting in a pot top-dressed with grit helps to really show the young growth off and the leaves are relatively tough and nibble resistant.

Hosta fortunei “Aurea”, London, May 2014

In complete contrast, Hosta fortunei “Aurea” throws up its loosely ribbed, paper-thin leaves, which on more than one occasion have been torn irreparably by spring hail storms. The neon-yellow leaves are at their most vivid if kept out of direct sunlight. In my experience they hold onto their incredible inner light very well and I would not be without this hosta on a dull, rainy day.

Hosta 'Halcyon', London, May 2014

Sturdy and compact, Hosta ‘Halcyon’ is a garden stalwart with gloriously glaucous leaves, exquisitely rolled at the base and elegantly ogee-curved at the tip. Raindrops bead like mercury on the surface after a shower and slowly roll down to quench the plant’s thirst. A superb hosta for the front of a border or a pot.

Hosta 'June', London, May 2014

In its second year after planting, Hosta ‘June’ is settling in well, forming neat clumps of heart-shaped foliage. I am already impressed. The variegation is subtle and pretty but bright enough to light up a dark corner of the garden. Not too tall and so far quite similar in stature to H. ‘Halcyon’.

Hosta 'Guardian Angel', London, May 2014

Last but not least, a variety which is going to require a little patience. Three plants of Hosta ‘Guardian Angel’ were planted out last June but have barely increased in size this year. The large leaves are every shade between mist and sage; long, ridged and lightly ruffled. ‘Guardian Angel’ may be a slow burner, but what a beauty she is. The best things come to those who wait.

For a great choice of hostas in the UK, check out Bowdens (royal warrant holder) and Mickfield Hostas, both offering a mind-blowing selection of top notch plants.

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10 thoughts on “Happy Hostas

  1. Ohh well you have hostas and we have tree ferns…. doubt they could cope with 40 degrees. Our autumn weather is warmer than your spring weather too – 22 degrees today

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    1. Apart from the dreaded blue slug pellets, no. In our coastal garden they just keep coming and coming, whatever I do. Mild winters are fatal as the little ones all survive and do untold damage when I am not looking!

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      1. Have you tried a little beer in a flat container? The little buggers love to drink and drown, and I don’t think they are particular about the type of beer either :)). I’ve tried it, and it works!

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  2. You are jolly lucky not to have snails and slugs making a nuisance of themselves, I think attracting lots of birds is the right answer. I gave up with Hostas as the snails seems to parachute in from heaven knows where and this year I have only one Hosta, in a pot smothered in vaseline in the middle of the patio, looking faintly ridiculous but so far snail free.

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  3. Gorgeous! And lucky you not to have snails and slugs. I gave up hostas for that reason. Someone told me that if you plant in a copper tub, or with a copper band around the tub, the chemical reaction will deter the the beasties. In the meantime I envy you! Beautiful photographs too. Thank you

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  4. Hostas are a favourite of mine, but not often seen in South Africa. I’ve had some success with seed-raised plants, but several years ago the buck discovered them. Goodbye hostas. A few still try grimly every spring. So I enjoyed salivating over your selection 😉

    Jack Holloway 0836591227 fax 0867248744

    MountainGetaways (Tourism Marketing) http://www.mountaingetaways.co.za Sequoia Gardens (Accommodation and Open Garden) http://sequoiagardens.wordpress.com and http://www.facebook.com/sequoiastay Marketing in SA of ‘Warriors’: see http://www.warriors.co.za http://about.me/JackHolloway Haenertsburg Rotary Club http://www.rotaryhaenertsburg.co.za

    On 13 May 2014 23:54, The Frustrated Gardener

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    1. Hello Jack, good to hear from you again. A lot of things seem to find hostas utterly delectable. Happily nothing in our London garden….so far! Just back from Chelsea where the hosta displays were the best I have ever seen. No room for any more though 😦 How are things with you?

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