Wednesday, September 9, 2009

ABC Wednesday: A HOST of Plants

This week's ABC Wednesday is brought to you by the letter H, an easy letter to illustrate for any gardener.

Starting with that stalwart of any shade garden . . . the Hosta. There are thousands of cultivars of hostas with new hybrids added each year. I've tried to remember the names of all the new ones I've purchased in the last few years, but I'm afraid the tag for this one is hidden underneath all that lamium creeping up--time to do a little tidying up in the garden, I'm afraid!

While hostas are grown for their foliage, the tall blooms that appear once during the summer are an added bonus, I think. With no planning on my part, I have enough different varieties of hosta to provide a series of blooms all summer long. The photo above is a variety that is blooming this week while the photo below was blooming back in July.

Not only are hostas easy to grow, they are also easy to divide. Several of my older hostas, whose names are long forgotten, were dug up this spring and divided into two or three plants each.

But the giant "Sum and Substance" will not be divided in the hopes of seeing it get even larger next year. Tarzan the cat tried to help in giving some perspective on the size of this hosta--its leaves are easily 12" across.

Another shade plant I've become infatuated with lately is the Heuchera. The old-fashioned coral bells to many of the newer varieties shoot up airy spires with tiny blooms that defy my photographic capabilities.

Every year I add a few more cultivars of heucheras to the shade garden. I seem to be partial to those with luscious-sounding names--"Plum Pudding," "Creme Brulee," "Key Lime," or "Tiramisu," for example. Apparently, my sweet tooth carries over to the garden:)

For show-stopping beauty in the garden, though, you can't top a Hydrangea. One of the perennials I purchased for my first garden was the "Endless Summer," falling in love with its huge blue blooms. Unfortunately, in my non-acidic garden, the blooms are pink, but that's okay, too. Pictured above is a new acquisition last fall that I like even better than "Endless Summer"--"Let's Dance in the Moonlight."

Although there are still a few new blooms on the "Endless Summer," most are fading. But this is one flower whose faded blooms are almost as attractive as the new ones. I hate to pick them, but I may attempt to dry a few of these and bring them indoors this fall.

Hydrangeas aren't just for shady spots, however. My latest infatuation is with the Hydrangea paniculatas, like this "Limelight" above. This species grows best in full sun and can grow as tall as 8-10 feet. A good pruning this winter should help it develop more of the upright growth that I want.

Considering this is only the first year in my garden, this plant has produced a multitude of blooms, starting out with green florets gradually turning to pure white and now fading back to green with the beginning of autumn.

The shade garden isn't the only place for flowers beginning with H, however. Flowers that enjoy full sun include the Heliopsis, or false sunflower, like this passalong from my friend Beckie. I was surprised to see the number of nurseries that offer this plant for sale, all without warning the unsuspecting gardener that this plant can take over the garden! A native plant, it needs lots of space.

I also can't quit without showing my first ever Helianthus, or the common sunflower. Grown from seeds I got from Monica's seed exchange last winter, this is a shorter variety--only 3 feet tall compared to the better-known 10 foot variety.

And, of course, no cottage garden would be complete without an old-fashioned Hollyhock. While most of my hollyhocks have dried up and gone to seed, a few brave blooms still hang on.

I'm sure there are some other flowers beginning with H I've forgotten, like Helenium, which I don't have in my garden . . . yet. And in the spring there will be Hyacinths and Hellebores. But what I had really hoped to end this post with was a photo of a Hummingbird. Alas, while they have been regular visitors to my garden this summer, they seem to have a sixth sense about when I have a camera poised on them. Maybe I'll have a Hummer for Round 6 of . . .

. . . ABC Wednesday, brought to you by Mrs. Nesbitt.


  1. You are right, H is a good letter for a garden! You have a lot of H plants and they all are pretty!

  2. Heavens! Is it really up to the Hs already? Man, if I HAD participated, I'd be way behind! Love all your H blooms,plus Htarzan, LOL. I think I'm going to try to get a Hydrangea paniculata on clearance this year. I plan to cut back a ton of buckthorn this fall which will create a sunnier bed...

  3. I always wonder how you gardening people manage to get so much done and still sound so cheerful about it? There must be something about this stuff anyway.

  4. The Hs were well represented in your garden. I loved the polka dotted caladium that snuck into the one picture too.

  5. What a great idea. Horticultural lessons as part of the ABC!I particularly liked your small hydrangea that likes the sun. I'm not very fond of the large variety. I prefer modest flowers! (I can't grow any of them very well, but I can have an onlookers opinion!

  6. H is a really good letter for some of my favorite plants. Your 'Limelight' is most happy to bloom so much the first year.

  7. Wonderful "H's". I was surprised to see my Key Lime Heuchera go completely green (not yellow-green as it was in the spring!) as the summer wore on. I guess it got too much sun.

  8. A Host of Heavenly Hs Rose, what a shame your name isn't Heather ;) only joking!!

    How lucky you are to be able to grow Hostas, all the ones I have tried to grow get immediately devoured by Snails.

    I have a very old Heuchera which originally came from my in-laws garden years ago and it performs well year after year.

    My Hydrangeas always grow pink due to the non-acidic soil too, I know there is something you can water them with which will turn them blue but I just let Nature take its course. Lovely photos throughout Rose, I enjoyed seeing your lovely Hs.

  9. Lots of choices for H and most of them are favorites of mine too. I'll have to watch for Sum and Substance. None of my hostas are nearly that large. The non H plant lamium looks really nice around your hosta too.

  10. Wow Rose you certainly had many choices for "h". I wish my Limelight had bloomed this year. I planted it this past spring but it had only one tiny bloom. Hopefully next year it will do better.

  11. From your wonderful photos, I think I can correctly assume that you are a creative and successful gardener. Perfect shots for today!

  12. Hydrangea paniculata is on my want list for sure! It's a beautiful plant. The size of the 'Sum and Substance' is amazing.

  13. Very lovely host of flowers today, as many start with *H*. I love Hostas but the slugs love them more and I just cannot find a slug free place to put them. I tried gravel and planting in containers...... the slugs just laugh!

  14. Hydrangeas are my favorite : ). I just love them!

  15. You have some nice shade garden plants, all my favorites. They look nice and healthy.

  16. There's some beautiful plants in your post - and great pics. One day I may learn the secret of actually getting all my gardening done.

  17. Rose, have you had any problem with Hosta virus X in your hostas? Sum and Substance is one that tends to be very susceptible. I'm glad to see you leave the flowers on your hostas, too.

  18. What a lovely, colorful and interesting post for the H day! Love your host of plants!



  19. Gosh, there really are lots of H plants! They are all looking great in your garden, Rose. Sum and Substance is a wonderful architectural plant; or so i've read...they don't like this garden! I want to recommend another heuchera for your collection~~H villosa 'Autumn Bride'...It's blooming now in a becoming white. gail

  20. This certainly is a host of H flora. Beautiful flowers and interesting information.

  21. What a great collection of H's from your garden. I enjoyed the tour!
    And aren't the hosta blossoms so lovely, if not a little overlooked?
    Happy Wednesday!

  22. Shame about the lack of birds!!!!

    Lovely pics as always. Mums Hostas always look perfect in her garden. We have too many slugs here, despite the frog population in the pond (good for nothing frogs!)

  23. Hi Rose, you are so wise to not divide sum and substance. I am not wise and have set mine back permanently I fear by wanting to spread them around. Don't divide it! The helianthus from seed is quite impressive, well done! And Becky's heliopsis is a beauty too, even with plans for world domination. :-)

  24. I love the giant hosta! Maybe my slugs and snails would get dizzy and fall off, trying to climb those stems! LOL!

  25. Oh my goodness I never would have thought that there were so many H flowers.

  26. Tatyana, And I forgot Heliotrope!

    Monica, I'm on the lookout for a "Pinky Winky" on clearance this fall. Did you get to meet HTarzan when you were here, by the way?

    RuneE, Ah, peace, serenity, satisfaction, and fresh air and exercise all in one:)

    Lisa, Yes, that little caladium just couldn't resist getting in the picture:)

    Rinkly Rimes, Horticulture--I didn't even think of that! The hydrangeas are showy, for sure, but they're beautiful.

    Tina, I have been so pleased with my "Limelight." Now if I can only prune it without hurting it.

    Janet, I think my Key Lime is much greener, too, and it doesn't get much sun. The "Creme Brulee" is also turning greener. I hope they don't change color as they age?

  27. ShySongbird, Thanks; I guess I am fortunate in not having too many slugs around here. I have put plant food containing aluminum sulfate, I think is what it is, on my hydrangeas before to get them to turn blue. Usually, I forget, though, until it's too late or I don't put on enough and they turn lavender:)

    Marnie, This Sum and Substance is amazing; I'm not sure what I've done, if anything, for it to get this big. I've transplanted most of the lamium to cover some bare ground around tree roots, but it keeps wanting to invade the shade garden.

    Susie, Just be patient; the Limelight is worth waiting for.

    Kate, How kind of you! I don't know how "creative" or "successful" I am, but I'm having fun.

    Sweet Bay, There are definitely going to be more paniculatas added here as I save up money for them!

    Maggie May, I know slugs are such a pest for hostas. I've been lucky in not having too many.

    Life with kaishon, Me, too!

    Squirrel, Thank you; the shade garden has developed nicely over the past few years.

    Anthony North, I don't think gardening is ever truly done:)

    Jodi, I haven't had the hosta virus yet. I sure would hate to lose my S & S!

    Sylvia K, Thank you! I don't have beautiful harbors to look at outside my window like you, so my garden provides the view.

  28. Gail, There are a couple of other heucheras I really want--"Midnight Rose" and "Amethyst...something." I'll definitely look into "Autumn Bride" as well.

    Photowannabe, I was surprised when I started thinking about it how many flowers start with H.

    Nonizamboni, I do like the little hosta blooms! To me, they're an added bonus.

    Suburbia, You wouldn't believe how many times I've sat on my porch just waiting for the hummingbirds--they tease me by hovering nearby whenever I don't have my camera:)

    Frances, I will keep your wise words in mind and leave S&S alone:) The heliopsis here have lots of room to spread...I'll just dig up more of the lawn:)

    Jay, Now that's a funny image!

    Hip Chick, H seems to be a popular letter for flowers...and I know I've forgotten quite a few!

  29. You have a beautiful garden and such an amazing knowledge of all of your varied plants. Lovely photos of many H species!

  30. Love your flowers and H. I enjoy learning the names of plants.

    My Hydrangea is now completely bald. We are in the reversed season as you.(spring now) My retired neighbour pruned so much of my hedge last month. I hope he hasn't hurt the plant. I must take a photo of it. The new leaves are coming out. If not, my heart will be broken. The hedge is on my garden, but grows over to his. My husband asked why he pruned it, he said, he didn't want robbers hiding there. Can't blame him, his other neighbour was robbed and car stolen.

  31. Heavenly blossoms! I'd love to have a garden. Actually, I think I'd love to have a gardener. :)

  32. rose...i just read your h post and the 7 things about you...very funny.
    i do love hostas but my puppies have sat on every one of mine and they are all is so sad. i will pot them up next year and save them.
    happy september.

  33. Such a very attractive and colourful post. I've never grown Hostas, but maybe I should. Love the Tarzan pic!

    On behalf of the Team, thanks for joining in.

  34. Wonderful collection of H's! I have the same plants in my garden:hollyhocks, hostas, hydrangeas, but the hostas are always in danger of being eaten by slugs and snails. Thanks for your visit and comment!

  35. It is a beautiful aset of photos; thanks.

  36. Rose, you do have a lot of h's in your gardens! And all of them are very impressive-even more so when seen in person. I remember our first sighting of sum and subtance and then you getting us both some. I think about that trip when I see mine growing. And the bloom stalks on it are such a plus.

    I am going to have to take you hydrangea shopping with me. I want one as pretty as yours. You will also have to help me decide where to put it(them).

  37. The letter 'H' represents some of my favorite plants. Hosta, Heuceras and HYDRANGEAS. I see your Limelight is doing well, nice amount of blooms, it's just going to get bigger & better every season. :)

  38. Sorry I had to use my old blogger signin. For some reason openid isn't being cooperative.

  39. Janie, Thank you, but I have so much to learn about gardening.

    Ann, I have some overgrown shrubs I really want pruned, but I've never worried about robbers hiding in them:) I hope yours comes back.

    Tumblewords, I'd love to have a gardener who did all the hard work for me, and I could just plant the flowers:)

    Marmee, my cats love to play around the hostas, but so far haven't destroyed any of them. My Golden puppy, however, has found that tomatoes are fun to pick:)

    Dragonstar, I would say that hostas are so easy to grow, but if you have slugs and snails, they love to eat them.

    Reader Wil, I seem to see a theme here--I should be very happy the slugs leave mine alone.

    Roger, Thank you!

    Beckie, Oh yes, we definitely need a plant shopping trip again soon. I'm hoping to see some big sales soon.

    Racquel, I wondered who PGL was:) I have been so pleased with the "Limelight." I think it needs some companions, though!

  40. Our hostas are taking over a flower bed – some plants are too easy to grow. I love hydrangeas – Endless Summer is on my list of what I want to add to our garden next spring. Lovely flowers and photos - outstanding job of covering the "h's."

  41. So many great H plants! I am also continuously adding heucheras. The Limelight hydrangea looks great for its first year!

  42. A great choice for H Rose. That lamium looks all too familiar :)

  43. That is helpful. We have a patch of very shady garden that i am ready to attack and I was wondering what would grow there. I shall definitely try some hostas.


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