HOSTAS ARE SO FAMILIAR, you probably think as I did that you know plenty about them. Yet in a conversation the other afternoon with Tony Avent, founder of Plant Delights Nursery in North Carolina and a longtime hosta breeder, it was one hosta “aha” after another. Ever wonder, for instance, why some blue hostas turn dull by high summer, or certain yellow and variegated varieties fade worse than others? Or did you know that ‘Halcyon’ (a blue hosta) has produced all the “sports” or mutations above, and more? In a story and a podcast, get to know our most beloved shade-garden standby more intimately than ever before. [read more…]
The older my garden gets, the more shady beds and borders I have. Great plants and sensible strategies for growing in shade.
I PRE-ORDER CERTAIN ANNUALS—reserving whole flats of favorites with my local garden center to make sure I won’t get shut out. Normally that early commitment includes a favorite peachy-colored impatiens, but this year, I’m not so sure. Impatiens downy mildew ravaged the popular bedding plant in many parts of the country last year, so I asked Margery Daughtrey, a plant pathologist and senior Extension associate with Cornell University, what the early line is from where she sits in her Suffolk County, Long Island, lab–and some substitutes I might consider for that annual order of mine. [read more…]
THE PLANT CATALOGS look delicious, but what plans have you made for where those wishlist items might go, and how many of each do you need to make them really say something in the garden? I love creating mixed plantings of shade treasures–bulbs and perennials, and especially extra-early bloomers–under deciduous trees and shrubs. I call the process “Making Mosaics,” and it’s one of the how-to sidebars in my latest book, “The Backyard Parables.” Now it’s also a new video, with photos I’ve taken here at my place. [read more…]
IN THE WAY THAT PINE CONES fascinate me, I’m taken in by the seedheads of Northern sea oats, too—and actually, they’re a little bit like a flattened cone, aren’t they? One of three shade-tolerant ornamental grasses I grow, Chasmanthium latifolium is an American native. Chasmanthium latifolium, up close: [read more…]