Plan for spring, more hostas

The mostly forgotten variety Medio-variegata hosta is still going strong after twenty years
The mostly forgotten variety Medio-variegata hosta is still going strong after twenty years

As I recall, and this is a tricky proposition since my memory has never been much to talk about, there were once a hundred or more varieties of hosta in the garden. This was, of course, before the invasion of deer a decade ago, and despite the sturdy constitution of hostas, constant nibbling took a toll that diminished this number to no more than half.

Hostas and nandina
Hostas and nandina

I ignored the increasing damage for too long, supposing that there was enough in the garden to share, until my wife threatened to take matters into her own hands. What this meant, I didn’t intend to find out, but it did provoke effort to protect hostas, and anything else that deer might feast upon. In fact, as it’s turned out, the effort has been minimal, requiring only a few minutes each month from April through October to spray a repellent.

A handful of hosta and Japanese Forest grass
Francis Williams, a handful of other hostas and Japanese Forest grass

Though deer are a constant presence in this garden beside a section of native forest, and neighboring a dense thicket where deer bed down in daylight hours, no more strenuous method than this harmless repellent has been required. And now, I’m able to plant anything that catches my eye, without regard for deer, so long as I add these to the list that must be sprayed every month.

Hosta beneath red leafed nandina
Hosta beneath red leafed nandina

Despite the diminished numbers of hostas, these remain one of the great successes of this garden.  As I consider what else I must plant this spring, the time seems overdue to add a few, or maybe more than a few hostas to the garden.

Siebold elegans hosta
Siebold elegans hosta

I am particularly enamored by big leaf varieties, though as I add more I’m at least a bit skeptical that one big leafed blue hosta is not substantially different from another. Though I’d be challenged to name a favorite, the old blue leafed ‘Siebold elegans’ is about as good as it gets. But, seedling hostas that I’ve nurtured hardly seem different, and mostly I suppose this tells you that I’m quite easily pleased. Give me a big leaf, and particularly if it’s blue I’ll be happy.

Seedling hosta growing in the middle of pond
Seedling hosta growing on rock and moss in the middle of pond

Though its leaves are not as large, it’s hard to do much better than ‘Francis Williams’, and another oldie, ‘Great Expectations’ had to be one of the early classics. ‘Great’ was almost lost a few years ago as a large holly grew to overwhelm it, and most often I’m not so good at rescuing imperiled treasures, but happily I dug it from beneath the holly when another season would have done it in.

Allen Mc'Connell dwarf hosta
Allen Mc’Connell dwarf hosta

There are a handful of dwarfs in the garden, and just like the full sized varieties, some are hits and others miss the mark. ‘Allen P. McConnell’ is a tidy, mounding small hosta, though perhaps it’s too large to be called a dwarf. It grows like a weed for me, and several clumps scattered through the garden originated from a single plant.

A yellow leafed seedling hosta that alternately strikes me as lovely and horrid
A yellow leafed seedling hosta that alternately strikes me as lovely and horrid

With such variation in size there is always a hosta to fit into even the smallest nook. With much of this garden shaded for a few hours or for most of the day, think the plan will be to walk into the garden center in late April and to fill a cart with whatever catches my eye. I can hardly imagine anything I’d enjoy more.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. gail conley says:

    Having the same situation with my beloved hostas. They were left alone for years but all of a sudden the deer have discovered them. What are you using do deter them?

    1. Dave says:

      Once perennials come up in the spring I spray at the start of every month until November, when I spray a double concentration. I alternate two different repellents, one with a wintergreen scent and the other rotten eggs on the theory that deer will not become accustomed to one or the other. I use Bobbex and Deer Off, but I think that any of the commonly found repellents will work just as well.

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