A few weeks ago I was invited to attend the Dixie Regional Hosta Society’s annual convention with long-time friend and fellow nurseryman, Davy Wright of WrightGardens.com. Several growers were asked to set up and vend their wares, and although I used to sell hostas in my garden shop and have a few of one particular variety growing in my yard, I never really spent much time studying them as possible feature plants for my shade garden areas. At least, I didn’t until about a week before the convention.
I knew about hostas and their foliage, flowers, etc. Sure. I knew just enough to get me into trouble if I were asked more than a simple question about them. I figured I had better study up on these plants, or I might get myself into an embarrassing situation. Worse than that, I could embarrass my friend Davy, who has been growing hostas for years. I knew, once I was at the convention, I would be able to pull from his knowledge and also from the knowledge of the other experts there.
To my surprise, Wright did not bring hostas at all. He brought Heuchera, Heucherella, Stokes asters and several varieties of coneflowers! He figured the other vendors would bring plenty of hostas and he was right. Nevertheless, I now had to learn about Heuchera and Heucherella! But, I had just learned
another common name for hosta is ‘Plantain-lily.’ (I’m smart like that.)
Focus-Hosta. We’ll discuss those other two plants in another issue.
Hostas are native to China, Japan and Korea, and were introduced into Europe in the late 1700s and into the United States in the mid 1800s. Their popularity has been growing ever since with thousands of cultivars to choose from thanks to hybridizing and tissue culture propagation.
Hostas range in size from small (around one inch tall) to very large plants like the ‘Parhelion’ that grows to 32-inches tall by about five feet in diameter….moreover, the lavender blooms are on 50-inch stalks and the hummingbirds love them!
Hostas come in a wide array of colors, like lime-green or dark-green and many greens in between. Some are variegated and others even have blue leaves. Some of the variegations are simple on the edging, while others have splashes and stripes of yellow, white or cream.
I met some very knowledgeable folks at the convention. Bob Solberg from Green Hill Hostas in Chapel Hill, NC, was one of the guest speakers there who brought some of his plants to show off and sell. He is a plant breeder who developed one of the red hostas, ‘Beet Salad.’ (Yes, red!) I asked Bob about some of the best choices for sun-tolerant hostas and he suggested the fragrant varieties like ‘Guacamole,’ ‘Halcyon’ and my favorite, ‘Fried Green Tomatoes.’
Peggy Davis of "Lotsa Hosta" in Florence had quite a selection as well. Some of her miniatures got my attention, like ‘Holy Mouse Ears’ and ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ which are miniatures with nearly-round leaves of blue-green and streaked with chartreuse or creamy-white sporting stalks of pale-lavender, bell-shaped flowers.
When Davy and I first arrived to set up our display, I helped a fellow named Richard Jolly unload some of the hosta stock he brought to sell. That gave me an opportunity to see a sampling of what is available out there to choose from for my garden beds. Jolly came over from Pine Forest Gardens in Tyrone, GA, and had hostas in a wide rancge of colors, shapes, sizes and prices.
Locally, Hanna’s Garden Shop had a nice selection of their featured hostas to sell. Lorraine Fincher is their resident expert at the nursery.
Finally, I must thank Judy, Jann (with two "n"s) and Bonnie of the local hosta society for their kind hospitality and for making me expand my personal collection with the ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ hosta. If you want to learn more about hostas, then join your local hosta society and get involved with promoting these exciting plants. I’m certain there are hundreds that will work in your garden!
To get more information from the folks mentioned, here is the list of contacts:
• Davy Wright: WrightGardens.com
• Bob Solberg: HostaHosta.com
• Richard Jolly: PineForestGardens.com
• Lorraine Fincher: HannasGardenShop.com
• Dixie Regional Hosta Society: DixieHosta.net
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