Hostas in bloom

Even though the two large hostas growing in our garden are not doing as well as they used to, partly due to age and partly due to neglect, it is worth the wait to see them come to bloom. Just as the leaves, which are magnificent in spring, start to peter-out because of summer heat, tall but strong stalks rise from the clumps, each topped with whorls of huge flower buds. And, when the pure-white double flowers open, the sight and the smell is beyond words. Furthermore, the buds open in succession. Thus the show goes on a fairly long time.

A favorite perennial for shade gardens, hostas are prized for the foliage which comes in many shades of green, from plain to variegated, and with a hint of blue as well. One can grow them to line a border, around trees, as specimen plants, or even in containers, since a lot of varieties are available in the market these days.

If in a fix as to which hostas to start with, the list of recipients of the annual “Hosta of the Year” award, presented each year by the American Hosta Growers Association, is a good resource to use.

For example, the winner for this year is ‘Praying Hands’, for 2010 it is ‘First Frost’, and the one for 2009 is ‘Earth Angel’. For those who like to plan ahead, ‘Liberty’ has been declared as the ‘Hosta of the Year” for 2012.

Hostas are easy to grow; nevertheless, if you would like to know pretty much all about hostas, a nice book to refer to is titled aptly, “The Hosta Book,” edited and compiled by Paul Aden.

Equipped with details to help educate a beginner or a connoisseur, the book has several pages of color pictures along with a description of the featured varieties. Interestingly, the compiler of the book has gone a step further to satisfy not only the need of a gardener but of a flower arranger as well; included in the book is a whole chapter – illustrations and all – on using leaves and flowers to create artistic flower designs. But, if getting involved in art of flower arranging is not your thing, simply grab an ordinary vase and throw in a handful of leaves, and there you have it: A simple yet elegant arrangement everyone will rave about!

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