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Hosta la vista
11:33am Saturday 26th May 2012 in Gardening
Hostas come in all shades from yellow to grey-green and their foliage is prized in the garden, writes GINA PARKINSON.
HOSTAS begin to fill their space this month after many weeks of promise. The first signs begin in March with pointed, tightly wound shoots pushing through the earth to the light.
These are often tinged with purple and tipped with light green and give an interesting display for a month or so as they fatten and slowly unfurl.
These herbaceous perennials are grown for their foliage, which ranges in colour from yellow to grey-green with all shades of green in between.
Many varieties are marked or edged in different colours, Hosta fortunei ‘Aureomarginata’, for example, has cream-edged green leaves, while ‘Albopicta’ is the opposite way round with green-edged cream leaves.
Others are grown for the texture of the leaves with Hosta sieboldiana Big Daddy having large, puckered bluish foliage. Blue Moon is similar in colour but much smaller, forming a neat clump of leaves around 30cm wide and with a good display of mauve flowers in July.
The hosta family is huge: the Plant Finder lists 15 pages of species and varieties, so there are lots to choose from. They are fairly adaptable plants but most do best in partial or dappled shade and all need reasonably moist soil, so dry areas under trees are best avoided.
Sun will be tolerated, especially in damp earth, but some species will scorch in direct heat so it is best to check the label before planting.
Leaf size varies from thumbnail tiny to dinner-plate huge, with smaller types best in an alpine bed where they won’t get overwhelmed by larger plants. The biggest specimens will eventually fill a large area, so if space is tight it might be best to grow one in a large pot rather than the garden. It would look magnificent by a shady front door.
LAWNS will creep into flowerbeds, staking their claim during the winter when the mower is put away and the grass is more or less ignored for several months. Now is the time to reclaim the edges and tidy up the join between grass and soil.
There are lawn-edging tools available to do the job, but a sharp garden spade will do just as well to cut along the edge of the lawn to neaten the line. Then just pull up any grass and moss that has strayed and gently loosen the earth. It may not be possible to manage a continuous line as some plants will have already grown up to the edge of the bed, but it is surprising what a difference this simple job makes to the look of the garden. The beds and lawn instantly look neatly defined.
In the veg patch
POTATOES are putting on plenty of growth by now and will need earthing up to stop developing tubers going green. Hoe up soil from either side of the row and cover the leaves as they emerge, this will also protect them from any frost we may still get this month.
In aid of York Cemetery
Clive Dawson, trustee and chair of the Friends of York Cemetery, will give a guided tour of the cemetery which is York’s largest conservation area with varied gardens thriving in a beautiful, tranquil space. The area is filled with native plants, including herbs, ferns and hardy perennials, shrubs and trees and gardened by volunteers to provide a habitat for birds, butterflies, moths and other wildlife. The walk will begin at 2pm at the Gatehouse on Cemetery Road, admission £2.50 adult, £1 child.
In aid of the National Gardens Scheme
Burton Agnes Hall, Burton Agnes, YO25 4NB, between Driffield and Bridlington on A614. Award-winning gardens and home to 3,000 different plant species with herbaceous borders, jungle and colour-themed gardens, giant games, maze, lawns, topiary yews and a woodland walk. The garden holds collections of hardy geraniums, penstemon and clematis as well as a national collection of campanula. This weekend is the hall’s Gardeners’ Fair with donations going to the National Gardens Scheme. Open 11am-5pm, admission £5 adult, £3 child, £4.50 concessions.
Also open today.
Whixley Gardens, Whixley, YO26 8AR, eight miles west of York off the A59 to Harrogate. Three gardens open in this rural village on the edge of the York Plain. Ash Tree House has a small cottage garden on a steeply sloping site with an extensive rock garden and borders with herbaceous plants, shrubs and roses giving a tapestry of soft colour. Cobble Cottage is a plantsman’s and flower arrangers garden with views to the Hambleton Hills. The Old Vicarage has a walled garden with mixed borders, climbers on walls and garden structures, mixed borders, old roses, topiary and gravel and old brick paths leading to hidden seating areas. Open 11am-5pm, combined admission £5.
Park House, Creyke Lane, Welton, HU15 1NQ, nine miles west of Hull. One-acre garden planted for year-round interest with beech trees, woodland walk, ornamental herb garden, raised vegetable beds, gravel and secret gardens. Vintage cars on display (weather permitting). Open 1pm-5pm, admission £3.50.
Gardening TV and Radio
7.15pm, BBC2, RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Alan Titchmarsh, Nicki Chapman and Chris Beardshaw complete their week at the flower show with the plant sell-off and announce the winner of the RHS People’s Award.
8am, BBC Radio Humberside, The Great Outdoors. With Blair Jacobs and Doug Stewert.
9am, BBC Radio Leeds, Tim Crowther and Joe Maiden.
2pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Eric Robson and panellists Bob Flowerdew, Anne Swithinbak and Matthew Wilson are at the Chelsea Flower Show.
5.20pm, BBC1, RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Alan Titchmarsh and Chris Beardshaw look at the highlights from this year’s show.
3pm, BBC R4, Gardeners’ Question Time. Peter Gibbs chairs the horticultural discussion from the Dig Deep Community Project in South Oxhey, Hertfordshire.
8.30pm, BBC2, Gardeners’ World. Monty Don plants out tender annuals and carol Klein helps a gardener who lives in a lighthouse.
Saturday, June 2.
7am, BBC Radio York, Julia Booth. Julia and horticultural expert Nigel Harrison hold their weekly plant surgery.