Photo Walters Gardens
Hibiscus 'Craneberry Crunch'
Photo Walters Gardens
ALL ABOUT FOLIAGEOne of the most asked questions at Budd Gardens is 'what blooms all summer'? While there are a few perennials with long bloom periods such as Malva, Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Shasta Daisies they do not bloom for the entire summer season. The time has come to stop being preoccupied with blooms and to concentrate on beautiful foliage, plants that look great from spring to frost. I consider the leaves of these plants to be the blooms! The key to a successful perennial garden is placing these plants with other blooming perennials to create all season colour.
The most obvious foliage plant is of course Hostas. My backyard has over 400 of these beauties and they supply the most glorious colours for the shade. Comments I receive from visitors are laden with superlatives such as 'gorgeous', 'fantastic', 'unbelievable', and 'stunning'. Another foliage plant that adds colour to the garden all season long are 'Heucheras' or 'Coral Bells'. From bright yellow and the light greens of 'Lime Rickey', 'Pistache' and 'Citronelle', to the orange-caramel colours of 'Marmalade', 'Peach Flambe' and 'Caramel' these wonderful perennials are flying off the shelves this year. A close relative is Heucherella 'Sweet Tea' and 'Stoplight' both stunning varieties. All of the above plants bloom but the main attraction is the brightly coloured leaves. Old fashion perennials such as Lavender, Sedum, Silver Mound, Iris and Liatris have attractive foliage when not in bloom.
So when visiting your local garden centre, use your own creative imagination and put together a collection of perennials with attractive leaves and you will be rewarded with a summer of colour.
HOW TO RID YOUR HOSTA GARDEN OF SLUGSPeople who grow these beautiful plants sooner or later will be encountering the hostas nemesis, the dreaded slug. My garden is no exception and by late July the little buggers have won the battle, but not this year. The war is on!
There are many home recipes such as putting out cups of beer (who knew slugs were beer drinkers), scattering crumpled egg shells around the hostas or encircling them with copper strips. These methods are impractical in a large hosta garden and not very effective. Non-toxic slug bait in granular form is much more effective but not economical for my hosta collection. About two weeks ago (June 20) I was up early one morning and noticed the slugs were on most of my hostas. It was then that I decided to try a method of spraying that I had heard much about, and that is spraying a solution of ammonia with water at the rate of approximately 1:9 mixture. I purchased a 1.8 liter bottle of ammonia at Canadian Tire and a 48 ounce 'multi-purpose sprayer' and that evening just before dark went to work. Next morning at around 6:30 I was at it again and have been continuing this daily application for the past two weeks. This spray solution only works when sprayed directly onto the slug. (Ammonia is a naturally occurring compound containing nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3) so the plants love it.) I've noticed at different times certain parts of the garden have more slugs than others, and that in the past week the population is decreasing. Also there are hardly any holes in my hosta leaves as I kill them before any damage is done. (I have also notice slugs on 'slug resistant' hostas but they definitely prefer the thin leaves ones. My guess is that they were not just resting on their way.)
I plan on continuing this regime maybe every second day until V-day. There is a rewarding feeling to watch the slug instantly shrink to oblivion upon spraying and I finally feel as though I am accomplishing something in this battle to keep my hosta garden beautiful all summer. This fall after the hosta leaves have frozen I will clean these dead leaves and then pour a 1/2 to 1 cup of diluted ammonia solution around and on the crown of the hosta to kill slugs and slug eggs. I will repeat this in the spring just when the hosta shoots are appearing. Hopefully this fall and spring application will greatly reduce the slug population and next season won't require as many morning and nightly sprayings.
MY HOSTA GARDENFor the past four Saturday afternoons I have opened my hosta garden to visitors and one of the most asked questions is how old is the garden. About 14 years ago I started a modest hosta garden at the back of my property and through the years have expanded several times, the latest three years ago. The result is a backyard of over 350 varieties of hostas of varying ages that put on a show worthy of a Queen or King.
The last expansion was into a sunny area of the yard but I planted three trees along with the hostas and they are already providing a modest amount of shade. In the future these trees will give a perfect filtered shade for the plants. In the hosta garden I strived for contrast; contrast between colours, plant sizes, texture of leaves and height, the result being a flowing wavy garden that is appealing to the eye. Sitting back looking at the overall view I have once or twice moved one hosta to a new location to change the look of that corner of the garden. I live on a court so the yard is pie shaped and this makes for pleasing view as the eye travels down the lawn with hosta gardens on either side to the back of the property. There is a spectacular view of the hostas from the back of the garden looking back to the house and another view from my neighbours property looking at the garden from the side. These view are so different from each other it's amazing. Probably the best view is from my deck on the second floor.
The hosta garden displays itself differently in morning, afternoon and evening depending on light conditions and also if the garden has been watered or rained on. Last evening around 9pm after the sun had set and just after a light rain I made a solitary tour of my hostas and was amazed. I had never seen my garden look so beautiful. The hostas were standing up in all their magnificence having enjoyed the rain and the cool evening. They looked huge in the fading light and each seemed to have its own personality and the 'blues' were spectacular and more blue than I have ever seen. I did not want to leave and stayed until dark. OK I admit it, I love hostas and I love to share my garden with others. Don Budd
Planting Perennials in the Fall
Fall is an excellent time to be planting perennials. This time of year is plant friendly in that we have moderate weather which is perfect for perennial plant growth. Plenty of fall rain and less punishing hot sun and humid weather allows your new plants to happily establish themselves for the winter. Also there is less transplant shock for your perennials.
Your local nurseries have plants that have been growing in pots all summer and are aching to get out and break free of their tight quarters, you can actually hear them thanking you as you transplant them if you listen closely. A handful of bone meal or an application of liquid fertilizer to promote root growth will have your plants singing in the fall rains.
Another advantage of fall planting is that you can look at your existing beds and make easy visual decisions as to where you would like to add plants and also it is easy to decide how much space you have. This is much more difficult to do in the spring when starring at mostly bare ground with plants just sprouting. Perennial plants are on sale at most nurseries at this time of year so why not take advantage of this and save some money? Remember how good it felt in the spring after a long winter and getting out into the garden to do some manual labour and to work with your returning plant friends to encourage them along to a glorious summer? Some of that feeling can be captured again in the fall on a sunny, cool day working in your garden, contemplating the summer past and preparing for next season. Don Budd
Growing Hostas in Full Sun
The most asked question at our nursery is, "do you have any hostas that will grow in full sun?" All hostas will grow in a sunny location; the problem is what will they look like? Hosta leaves will burn and melt in the hot sun. So what to do? The first year that hostas are planted in full sun they will burn quickly but will grow fine. Every year after, as they become acclimatized to the sunny location there will be less burning. When the hosta is several years old burning won't happen until mid-July but by that time you will have so many leaves you can break off the few unsightly ones and still be left with a clean hosta.
I have a large 'Sagae' hosta in full, hot sun that looks great but looks different than the other 'Sagae' I have growing in the shade. A hosta grown in sun will look different than the same one grown in shade. Hostas in sun need lots of water and mulching to help keep the moisture in the soil. I recommend watering with a hose at the base of the plant-give it a good soaking at least once a week. Use shrubs or tall perennials as a partial sun screen; dwarf or other low growing hostas can be shaded this way. Thick leaved hostas have a better chance of doing well in full sun as well as some of the yellow and fragrant ones.
At our nursery our signs will indicate the 'sun tolerant' hostas. A few that do well for me are 'June', 'Halcyon', 'Francee', 'Patriot', and the above mentioned 'Sagae' but there are many more that will adapt to the sun. My backyard hosta garden has about 400 different varieties of hostas. With my last garden expansion I planted about 100 in full sun and the first season they burned but this year they are already looking better. I have however planted trees so that the hostas and the trees will grow together and in a few short years it will be a shaded garden. This is the other obvious solution to growing hostas in full sun-plant a tree!
When I walk to the sunny part of my hosta garden and look at the plants with full sunlight glancing off of the leaves, I feel anxious and the plant looks busy. When I cross the lawn and look at the hostas in the shade my heartbeat drops, and a sense of calm and quiet enters my soul. This is where they truly belong.
Why Isn't My Blue Hosta Blue?
Because it is happy? Because we have had so much rain this month of May and hostas love water? Because the sun did not shine for 10 days ending the long week-end and hostas love shade?
Hostas are smart plants; I often get calls in early spring from people wondering if their hostas are dead because they are not yet up. If they emerge from the soil too early and we get a late frost the beauty of the leaves will be compromised for that summer so they wait, more patiently than we do. Hostas originated in the mountains and valleys of China, Japan and Korea. Each variety can be traced back to a handful of species and if your hostas ancestors were found in the mountains it will be later coming up than the ones originating from the valleys; its genetic self preservation skills still kicking in.
The hosta of the year 2006 as chosen by the American Hosta Society is 'Stained Glass'. This is a beautiful golden yellow hosta with a wide, irregular dark green margin. It is a medium-large hosta with fragrant lavender flowers and is sun tolerant. The many sports of hosta 'Striptease' are named with the mother plant in mind ie. 'Gypsy Rose', 'Kiwi Full Monty', 'Risky Business', 'Hanky Panky', 'Patricia the Stripper' and 'Naked Lady'.
So, why isn't your blue hosta blue? Blue hostas are really green hostas with a coating of wax that reflects the light so that our eyes see blue. A young hosta will have a thin coating of wax that will imply a hint of blue but as your hosta matures the wax will become thicker and your hosta bluer.
Taking the Confusion Out of Planning a Perennial Garden
Too often people are discouraged when planning a perennial garden because there are so many varieties to choose from. Blooms vary in how long they bloom as well as at different times of the season, some require shade and others require sun to thrive. Confused yet?
Rule number one: The greatest value of a perennial plant is its foliage, the bloom is often secondary. A perennial garden with 20 different plants and only one or two in bloom at a time can be spectacular if foliage is taken into consideration. There are now many new perennials with terrific coloured foliage. The longer blooming perennials are sometimes the least hardy.
Rule number two: Buy plants that bloom in the spring, summer and fall --- don't worry about exact bloom times. If you've followed rule number one your garden will fall into place naturally.
Rule number three: Don't worry so much about how tall a perennial is. Space the plants with short and medium in the front of your border. Don't be afraid to plant a slightly taller plant in front of a shorter one. This will create a wavy affect to your garden that is very pleasing and is much nicer that a garden that is tiered starting with the first row of plants short and working to the taller back row, plus, trying to achieve this can drive you nuts. Remember you are not lying on your stomach when you view the garden, you are standing looking down.
Rule number four: Go to a reputable garden centre with experienced sales staff that are able to help you. They will gladly help you in choosing plants that will work within your space and light conditions. Look for healthy-looking plants with labels; otherwise, you're never really sure what you're getting. Growing perennials will become a lifelong passion with many rewards. As you gain experience you will want to try different varieties and various groupings in your garden. Soon you will have you very own dream garden. Don Budd
When do I Divide My Hostas?
This is a question that is often asked of me and of which there is much misinformation published in various magazine articles. You divide hostas to get more but not because your hosta is too large.
Hostas come in various sizes from dwarf to giant and each is genetically programmed to achieve their maximum size given ideal growing conditions. Hostas love water and a good supply of fertilizer in the form of compost or mushroom compost. If you feel your hosta is too large for the space it takes up, you have not allowed enough room and moving the hosta or plants around it will solve the problem.
Hostas take eight years and more to mature. A mature leaf will show its full size, colour, corrugation and the entire clump will also show maturity in its arching, vase-shaped or spreading nature. When you divide a hosta you lose the leaf and clump maturity. If your clump is large enough, carefully removing one or two divisions is possible without disturbing the maturity of the hosta.
A mature hosta garden with many different hostas of colour, size and shape is a beautiful sight. Too manny gardens are filled with dozens of hosta of only one or two varieties, that have been divided over and over again through the years by people who think they must divide. Too often people will divide a huge, beautiful hosta and replant three or four of the same divisions in the same spot. What's the point? It's okay if hosta leaves are pushing up against the plants beside them; this creates a lovely lush look to your garden.
Do hostas ever need dividing? My hosta garden of about 400 varieties is 11 years old and I haven't seen one yet that needs it. Don Budd