one hosta per customer, but which one?

hosta-sagaeI GOT TO PAGE 67 IN THE PLANT DELIGHTS CATALOG last night, the first of eight pages of Hosta entries from Tony Avent, Chief Hosta Officer of contemporary horticulture. I was going to allow myself one new hosta this year, but which one? There are now almost 6,000 cultivars in commerce, hosta honcho Tony says, but, “of these, probably 500 actually are distinct and garden-worthy.” Which one can’t you live without, or wish you lived with (perhaps fluctuans ‘Variegated,’ aka ‘Sagae,’  above)?

My clump of ‘Sagae,’ whose highly textural, blue-green foliage is suffused with a warm cream from the edges splashing inward, is probably 3 or 4 feet across now, heading for a maximum of about 6. This is a statement plant: big, bold, beautiful, about 30 inches tall. I treasure it, and was glad to be affirmed in my judgment by the CHO, Tony, who calls ‘Sagae’, the “finest and most dramatic variegated hosta ever introduced.”

Another personal must-have would be ‘June’ (above), the month of my birth and also one beautiful hosta. I have to describe it as not just blue but nearly turquoise in spring, the creamy yellow centers heating up to chartreuse against a vivid blue. I’ve found ‘June’ to be a strong grower, clumping up to about 3 feet across, and have made numerous divisions from my original plants.  As summer heats up, the ‘June’ foliage darkens to deep blue with medium green here, but it’s good-looking in that combination, too.

hosta-june.jpg‘June’ is a key element for me in underplanting under deciduous trees and shrubs in my garden, a good partner at perhaps 15 inches tall with Hakonechloa ‘All Gold,’ among many other things.

And then of course I need an all-gold hosta as a filler in such mosaics…and the old-but-good, vase-shaped big blue hosta ‘Krossa Regal’ for my big pots (yes, Hosta pot, why not?), and…you can see where this is going.

So tell me: Which hosta would it be, if it were only one per customer?

Hosta Sources:

  1. matt says:

    I’ve always loved hosta for that surreal blue-green and yellow combination. BUT THERE ARE 6,000????? I could never ever choose and would have to have someone do it for me. Whew.

  2. Ted says:

    Blue Mouse Ears is on my list – but I’m waiting for it to be a bit cheaper. At the other end of the size scale is Empress Wu, and I want that too!

  3. christine says:

    I saw the title of your post and thought oh that’s easy – Hosta plantiginea. It came with my house and has apple green foliage, strong grower and delicious smelling flowers in August/September. But then your photos and then the colors – turquoise! and then you reminded me of another favorite, Krossa Regale and I have to agree with Susan, what’s a girl to do?!!! Mmmm, I have an entire growing season ahead of me to decide…(and find ‘June’!)

  4. Abby Jane Brody says:

    I’d be hardpressed to decide between Sagae and H. tokudama ‘Aureonebulosa’.

    A wonderful yellow hosta that weathers the summer without trouble is ‘Zounds’. I grow it in a sunken pot (voles, of course) and it attracts the eye from quite a distance.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Abby Jane, and yes–Zounds! A great one. Now I have to go lust over H.t. ‘Aureonebulosa,’ too…maybe I shouldn’t have asked people for more ideas, huh? See you soon again.

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Zach. I think the blue-green thing gets me going most of all, too. Thanks for visiting, an come again soon.

      And BTW, @all of you: I have written to Andre out in Lincoln, NE, since obviously we need a specific hosta 12-step program. Perhaps he can organize it for us or at least draw us a group logo or a list of commandments of something? Seems the all-purpose one for addicted gardeners of the generic variety isn’t helping w/this little issue. Yikes.

  5. andrea says:

    Diana Remembered, Striptease, Stained Glass? Too tough to choose even three no less one! But how nice of you to get us thinking!

  6. Keith Alexander says:

    Definitely ‘Stained Glass.’ In my garden, it makes visitors take notice above all others. It’s screaming chartreuse with an emerald green border, 5″ leaves, 24″ in diameter.

  7. Rick says:

    I have to agree with Ted: Blue Mouse Ears. I have three of these planted in the front landscape, and they are delightful little hostas, and their physical size and shape truly reflects their name.

  8. I do love your choice of “June,” but one of my favorites has to be the 2004 American Hosta Growers Association winner, “Sum and Substance.” I love the bright green/gold coloring and it’s deep veined leaves. I have two that are right on the edge of a partial shade bed. They receive a bit more sunlight resulting in a brighter gold color in the leaves. Truly stunning.

  9. dlyn says:

    I twitted to you about “Kabitan” – don’t want to put a link in your comments, but there are numerous pics if it on my blog. I never get tired of looking at it. My “Sagae” is just one year old but in the first year I could see the potential. And “June” – two clumps growing under our guest bedroom window – people just love seeing it first thing in the morning. “Whirlwind” is another one I love – along with “Spilt Milk”, “Litte Sunspot”, “Wolverine” – you can’t have too many hostas you know. :)

  10. Josh says:

    Found you blog and this post via Twitter. This topic is near and dear to my heart…the question give us hosta-holics nightmares, though! How to choose just three, let alone one!? My typical response to this question is “It depends on the day!” However…’June’ and ‘Sagae’ are always at the top of my list. ‘Guardian Angel’ is another beautiful hosta. So that makes three, but there are sooooo many more!

  11. Joe C says:

    I also am officially limited to one each year by my significant other since we are at Hosta capacity in her opinion. Last years was a Francis Williams which did very well. I still sneak in a few extra during the spring and say “that one was already there!”. Ah the fun of gardening in limited space… Great topic! I am now off to check out the new names mentioned above…

  12. David Brogren says:

    Joe C that is a long time tradition in my house too. Question: When did you get that? response: oh, it’s been around forever.


  13. diana says:

    I love Plant delights catalog, it’s so fun! Hostas struggle here what with the arid climate and rampant hail storms. But I love the blue-green ( name unknown) ones that I moved from under our deck to some shade beds.

  14. margaret says:

    Welcome to Josh, whose Iowa nursery I just visited while sipping my tea this morning, only to find this great section about (guess what?) HOSTAS. And that new book that’s due out in April, the Hostapedia…oh, my. Thank you Josh for finding me on Twitter. By the way, Josh is @JoshSpece there.

    As I read all the rest of your comments, I think: Yes, that’s right, and yes, that’s right, too; I must have that. I am hopeless. You all are as well, it seems. Takes one to know one(s).

    One hosta I am embarrassed that I did not list in my post (thanks Christine) is H. plantaginea. The late white flowers are beautiful and so fragrant. What was I thinking leaving that off my list? And its foliage is good all season long. Thanks for that reminder, Christine.

  15. David Brogren says:

    Margaret, can we go off topic for a sec? I have a question for the experts who surely know more than I (as I have done it wrong before)

    I am wondering the correct time to cut back geraniums we brought in from the garden (they were in big pots outside) and are living in the same pots in our house? Right now they are not blooming but they are pretty darn healthy, and the room is sunny and bout 60 degrees. Last year I definitely cut em a bit late and they didn’t get big till later in the season… thanks

  16. peter says:

    Hi Margaret,

    Its hard to limit it to just one! Of the many (MANY!) I have added over the past few years here are my top three recent additions… although you probably already have these ;)
    “June Fever” – I think this is a sport of “June” with much more gold coloration (yes, I’m a sucker for gold foliage), and it holds it’s color all season, another plus!I liked it so much I bought two more the next year!
    “Brother Stefan” – O Petraszyn introduction, great form and color! very “puckery” (is that a word?).
    “Queen of the Seas” – I purchashed this on the “clearance table” fall 2007 and was blown away by the metalic silver blue foliage the following spring! I havent seen anything with color like this one.
    Think Sping!

    1. margaret says:

      Welcome, Patsi, who brings to us the Manifest Destiny theory of hosta-usage. Yes, they are a must. I have been dividing the oldtimers I began with, sieboldiana ‘Elegans’ and Frances Williams,’ the last few years. I literally had a pickup-truck bedful of each one to spread around. Crazy. Now, relocated in chunks, they are forming the bold element in the groundcover mosaic in the shrub borders at the far reaches of my place. They were formerly right near the house; now the newer types have those spots…but these oldie but goodies are doing ongoing service in the outer reaches. I hope we see you here soon again.

  17. Jan says:

    Just one? Okay, it has to be ‘Sweet Home Chicago’. No, make that ‘June’. Wait a minute, I’ve changed my mind to ‘Guacamole”. Yikes, I forgot about ‘Abiqua Drinking Gourd’. No, it has to be ‘Sweet Home Chicago’, unless… Nope, sorry, it can’t be done.

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