Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hosta garden

Shade gardens

Hosta companions

Hosta gardens are ubiquitous in my region. In the last forty years there has been a tissue culture explosion of hybrid cultivars available to gardeners. Large, tall living sculptures and tiny obscure thumbnails can grace the shade. An explosion of textures, leaf colors and forms can transform that shadow place turf cannot control.
There are design elements and companion plants that can spice up your hosta garden. Hosta are building blocks, framework to building an effective shade garden. Many times that is where gardeners stop, the house is framed, but little siding is added to complete the work. Without companions the foundation can be solid to the point of boring, mundane green.

Changing texture
Occasional contrasts of color, texture and shape backed by a solid mass are often very effective methods of painting for the eye. An excellent method is to contrast the prominent feature of a plant in mass with another variety. An example; tall blue-green Hosta nigresens with a yellow-green variegated variety.

Contrasting masses

Blue-green mass with contrasting accents - variegation
Adding tall companion plantings will add an element of structure and succession to your glade. I will add martagon lilies, thalictrum and cimicifuga for color and height. All are long living shade lovers. Each blooms in a different season and has contrasting foliage form and color.
Thalictrum flowers and foliage light and airy

Cimicifuga foliage, blooms in fall

Martagon lilies can be six feet tall

I include Iris cristata in groups between hosta groupings for spring color and contrasting foliage. This early blooming iris provides an opening curtain to hosta groupings unfurling act. Their colonies of vertical foliage provide contrasting form amidst the lateral growth of hosta clumps.  

Contrasting foliage Iris cristata colonies
Seek out these companions this spring and watch them transform your shadows.
Please comment on this article! 

Iris cristata "Powder Blue Giant"

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