Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Small Hosta Garden

Our Small Hosta garden is looking very good this year.  The little hostas planted three and four years ago have matured into very pleasing clumps and those planted more recently are growing well.   But is was hard work this year because locally the weather played lots of tricks on us.

The winter was a very mild one by Buffalo standards and we got very little snow.   For many weeks, between heavy snows, the ground was not snow covered and the blanket that it normally supplies to cover dormant plants was not available.  We worried about the effect of this mild season on plants like hostas that need a cold dormant period.   In March the thermometer rose to record highs and our little plants decided that winter was over for another year and it was time to wake up and start work.  There were tiny shoots everywhere and although that is always a thrill, it was a concern too.    

Then in April, just as a few of those shoots were beginning to unfurl, we had warnings of heavy frosts.  The tightly-bound cone of leaves in those little pips when they first emerge are fairly frost proof but as soon as the leaves unfurl the cold can destroy leaf cells and the damaged area will not recover.   We needed to protect those growing tips as best we could.   The solution was to place an up-turned flowerpot over each emerging plant.  Each day the pots were removed to give the plants some light and most nights they were re-placed as another frost threatened.   As more and more little hostas emerged, more and more pots were added.  And then it snowed. 

Eventually the weather pattern calmed down.  The snow left, the pots were removed and the little hostas began to emerge normally and vigorously. Today, in late May they are looking really good and the hard work has been worth it.

Mike and Anita Sheehan visit the small hosta garden.

We have two fairly large, slightly raised beds of little hostas and a shade rock garden where we grow hostas like alpine plants.   Nearly all the hostas chosen are those that grow less than 12 inches tall and the plan is to keep the spread to less than 12 inches too.  There are a couple of larger plants to the edge of the beds because we want a comparison to show that some of the miniatures are really tiny.  There are just a few small companion plants like violets and lily of the valley, two small Japanese maples and some moss covered stones, but mostly the garden is a sea of miniature hostas and, as Kathy says in her ‘Book of Little Hostas’, there are little hostas that mimic, in color and form, all of the bigger varieties so you can have it all and in a much smaller space.             
The hosta rock garden