Monday, April 30, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'nigrescens'

It was love at first site for me when I spotted the hosta 'nigrescens'.  I love the upright, vase shaped leaves and the unusual grey green color.  The flowers scapes on 'nigrescens' can grow to be 6 to 8 feet tall.  The shape of the leaves always remind me of spade shovels.  It's easy to grow smaller hostas underneath this one, but be careful since mine seems to be a vigorous growing hosta.  Pair this one with green, gold, or variegated hostas.  The lower the hostas surrounding it will show off it's great upright shape.

Hosta 'nigrescens' 2009
Hosta 'nigrescens' 2011

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Hosta Division

Spring is a great time to divide hostas, especially those very large hostas.  It's easier to divide that giant hosta when it's eyes are just coming out of the ground then when it's a large leafed out plant.  If you can divide them before they leaf out, most of them won't even show signs that they have been divided.  
Before I get into how to divide your hostas, I just want to say that despite what some of you have heard, hostas do not need to be divided.  I divide mine simply because they outgrow the space I have given them.  If I had a lot of space in my garden, I would never need to divide my hostas.  The only time a hosta may need to be divided is if it develops fairy ring.  Fairy ring is when the middle of the hosta dies out but the hosta surrounded the middle grows just fine.  Fairy ring isn't going to kill your hosta, but it just isn't visually appealing.  Usually fairy ring is the result of the middle of the hosta sinking into the soil.

Here are the steps:

1. Here are my choice of tools.  You may have garden tools you prefer and feel free to use those.  My tools of choice are a transplant shovel, a garden fork, and a serrated bread knife (or a garden knife would also work).  

2. If I am dividing a chunk off of a hosta without digging it up I use my transplant shovel.  I try to look for a natural break between eyes and I place my shovel there.  The transplant shovel is smaller then the average shovel, but it is also longer so you can dig into the dirt farther and get underneath the roots of the hosta.  I try to angle the shovel away from the smaller set of eyes to make sure I am getting roots and then I dig in.  You will go through roots and maybe an eye but all is good.

3. Slowly lift the portion of the hosta you wish to divide off of the larger hosta.

4. You will then have something that looks like this.  You can plant it somewhere else, give it to friends, or pot it up for a plant sale.  If you have several eyes you can also cut the eyes off and make several divisions.

1. This hosta was attacked by voles over the winter, so I wanted to lift the whole hosta out before diving.  For this I use a garden fork, because the garden fork will lift the hosta and roots but leave behind most of the dirt.

2. Once I have the plant lifted out of the ground, I use a garden knife to cut off different sections of the hosta.

3. If you cut through the eyes and roots and your plant looks like this, don't worry it will recover and grow normal.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Playing with New Camera - Any advice for SLR Novice?

On Monday I bought a new to me camera.  I decided to try to delve into the world of SLR.  Since I have no clue about photography past my point and shoot camera I decided to buy used.  So I am now armed with a Canon Rebel XTi.  Everyone I know who owns an SLR camera does not use it for garden photography.  So if there is anyone out there in the gardening world that uses a SLR camera I welcome any advice.  I tend to do a lot of macro shots in the garden, and would really like to know how to get the best shots from my camera.

Hosta of the Day - 'Maui Buttercups'

Hosta 'Maui Buttercups' is one you have to see, and I promise you will love it.  It has great bright gold coloring, which helps brighten up any shade garden.  The leaves are round, and the more this hosta matures the more texture the leaves gain.  The leaves have a slightly cupped shape, and love to gather rain water in their leaves.  Pair this hosta with dark green, variegated, or blue hostas.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hosta of the Day 'Marilyn Monroe'

If you are looking for a hosta that quite a few unique features, then look no further than Hosta 'Marilyn Monroe'.  Not only does this hosta have red petioles, but it also has white backs and leaves that are slightly glossy.  The leaves are light green and rounded with a very wavy edge.  A hosta that is similar in shape is hosta 'Grand Slam', but the leaves on 'Marilyn Monroe' are more consistently wavy.  Pair this hosta with blue, white or gold variegated, dark green, or gold hostas.
Hosta 'Marilyn Monroe' 2009
Hosta 'Marilyn Monroe' 2011
Hosta 'Grand Slam'

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shade Plant of the Week - Corydalis lutea

This week's shade plant is actually a relative of last week's dicentra (bleeding heart).  You will see the resemblance in the leaves of both plants.  Corydalis lutea is a very airy plant that forms small mounds with yellow tube shaped flowers.  A huge advantage of this plant is that it blooms from early spring all the way through late fall.  Corydalis lutea has a tendency to pop up (spreads by seed) in unexpected places in my garden, but it is no means invasive.  The stems of the plant are very brittle, which make it very easy to pull up from an unwanted spot.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Moonlight Sonata'

Hosta 'Moonlight Sonata' might not be eye catching at first, but it's one that I have will really grown to love.  It is a lovely blue-green color.  The leaves start off almost a matte in spring and grow shinier throughout the summer.  The leaves are thick and are held up high, this is not a lay on the ground hosta.  Then in late summer the plant produces a large, fragrant white flower.  You could easily grow smaller hostas under the base of this one.  Green, yellow, and white variegated hostas would be good pairs for this hosta.
Hosta 'Moonlight Sonata' 2009
Hosta 'Moonlight Sonata' 2011

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Metallica'

I've already admitted in an earlier post this winter that I have been known to buy a hosta just because of it's name.  When I found out there was a hosta called 'Metallica' I just had to have it.  It could have been the ugliest hosta on this earth, and I still would have "needed" it in my collection.  Lucky for me, it's not the the ugliest hosta.  By now you probably have guessed another secret about me - I am a metal head at heart.  'Metallica' has dark blue green metallic colored leaves that are slightly wavy.  You won't find it in the mosh pit (or me for that matter), but it does "mosh" well with gold colored hostas.
Hosta 'Metallica' 2009
Hosta 'Metallica' 2011

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Liberty'

Each year the American Hosta Growers Association members vote for a Hosta to represent an excellent hosta for all regions of the country that is reasonably priced and widely available.  The 2012 Hosta of the Year is Hosta 'Liberty'.  Liberty is a slow growing hosta, but patience with this one will really pay off.  It starts off in spring with an irregular gold margin, and as summer progresses it turns a creamy white.  It can be a real show stopper!  Pair this one with dark green or chartreuse colored hostas.
Hosta 'Liberty'

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Little Sunspot'

Hosta 'Little Sunspot' 2012
Hosta 'Little Sunspot' is a small hosta that packs a lot of punch.  The leaves have a dark green margin with a vivid gold center.  It has been a fast growing hosta in my garden, and it is great for brightening up a dark border.  It blooms in early spring, and has been known to bloom again in late fall.  Pair this hosta with green, blue, or white variegated hostas.
Hosta 'Little Sunspot' 2009

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shade Plant of the Week - Dicentra or Bleeding Heart

I can remember as child looking forward to our neighbor's bleeding hearts blooming.  It was a little miracle to me that a plant could actually flower hearts.  In fact, I still think it is miracle.  There are many different varieties of Dicentra.  The old fashioned bleeding heart (dicentra spectabilis) blooms in spring, and then depending on the light and water in your yard can die off in July to return the following spring.  I have never had mine die off, and it's even on a pretty sunny corner.  However, the one I had in my previous yard would die off in mid-summer.  The fringed bleeding heart blooms intermittently from spring through fall.  Whereas the old fashioned format is tall (12-30"), the fringed bleeding heart grows to only 12-18" with light feathery foliage.  


Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'

Dicentra eximia Fringed Bleeding Hearts

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Lemon Lime'

This cute little hosta is a very vigorous in my garden.  I swear every year I divide this one in half, and by fall it's back to it's spring size.  That's unusual for a miniature hosta, since they are usually not the most hardy of the hosta family.  Another unusual feature of this hosta, is that it tends to bloom more then once a year!  It has wavy, lance shaped chartreuse leaves that hold their color all season.  It's a great hosta for the front of the border, especially a shady border that you want to brighten up!  It would also work great in a container or miniature garden.

Hosta 'Lemon Lime' 2009
Hosta 'Lemon Lime' 2011

Monday, April 16, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hosta of the Day - 'Love Pat'

If you don't have room for the hosta 'Abiqua Drinking Gourd' which can get quite large, but love the large blue cupped leaves....then a slightly smaller look-a-like hosta would be 'Love Pat'.  It has blue chalky leaves that form upright cupped leaves.  The leaves are very thick and corrugated, which makes them more slug resistant.  Pair this hosta with gold or green hostas to bring out it's beautiful blue color.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cheesehead Travels: Gardens of Casa/Casita Del Rio & Exotic Cactus Ranch

Large hot springs tub of Casa Del Rio overlooking Rio Grande river and Turtleback Mountains
This will be the last post on my travels to New Mexico.  I promise tomorrow to feature a hosta for you!  I just enjoyed my stay in New Mexico so much that I wanted to share it.  I don't think New Mexico is usually on the top of everyone's travel list.  There are natural hot springs that run throughout the town of Truth or Consequences.  Our house featured a hot spring tub, which was where we spent the majority of our vacation.

Everyone was so nice in Truth or Consequences.  Even though it was a small town and everyone knew everyone they never made visitors feel unwelcome.  It was not uncommon to walk into a store or restaurant and people would just start talking to you, asking about your day, like you were one of the local towns people.  Here are the last of some of the pictures of gardens and such of the house we rented while there, and of the nursery I visited there called Exotic Cactus Ranch:
Another hot spring tub of Casita Del Rio house
Casa Del Rio
Spaceport America is not far, and they launched a rocket during our stay. 

Overlooking Rio Grand and Turtleback Mountains
Love this metal garden sculpture
Heron on Rio Grande
Loved these hooks they had placed all over the gardens and fences.
Visiting Exotic Cactus Ranch
Cactus in bloom
Another Cactus bloom
Large display cactus
Sign for Exotic Cactus Ranch

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Shade Plant of the Week - Astilboides tabularis

I obviously have an obsession with foliage, how else could you explain my hosta obsession?  So when I saw this plant in a catalog many years ago I was automatically drawn to it's very large circular shaped leaves, almost like green umbrellas.  I didn't even care if it bloomed, I knew it would make a great addition to my shade garden.  The leaves can measure 24 inches across, and the plant itself can grow 3-4 feet tall.  In mid summer, it also has white plume like flowers (much like and Astilbe).  If you decide to add this plant to your garden, make sure to give it lots of room!
Not the best pictures, but it's the very large circle leaf plant