Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hosta Daze

The lush clumps of bold, exotic leaves are their main feature.  Flowers are an added bonus.  They are dependable and reliable plants that brighten up shady areas.  The leaves may be variegated blue-green, gold-green. white-green, two toned, three-toned etc..., solid green, blues, gold, as well as various shapes and sizes, forms, leaf textures.  They range from 4" miniatures to 6' giants.  You describe your ideal hosta and it is probably out there.  After all, there are thousands of varieties on the market now and more coming.

Piedmont Gold

Can you grow them in the sun?  Of course, but they need moisture.  Nothing a few good scoops of compost won't take care of.  Generally speaking, the yellow leaved hosta are best located in the sun, they maintain their yellow-gold colouring and contrast nicely next to perennials with darker green foliage.

Blue Angel
Blue Hostas need at least afternoon shade.  If planted in an area with afternoon sun, they will grow, but will loose there beautiful blue colouring. The sun can scorch off a waxy layer that gives the blue hosta its colour, rain or rubbing against other plants can also cause a mottling appearance.  Blue hosta can grow in complete shade.  And after all, if you are seeking out blue hosta, let's keep it blue.

Bressingham Blue

The flowers range from mauve to lilac-lavender to pure white.  Some are even fragrant.  They rise 1-2" above the plant opening to elegant lily-like flowers.  Many of them are prized by floral arrangers.

The perfect plant?  Hosta collectors think so, and some of them can be a bit obsessive, but with thousands of varieties out there, they can keep collecting to their hearts content.  The problem I find is some of them look so much alike.

One draw back may be that the slugs find them an irresistible treat. Here in my garden Ligularia Desdemonia and Britt Marie Crawford are the irresistible treat.  The slugs and the snails devour them .  Generally speaking,  I don't mind the few slug holes I find.  It may be more of a problem when the plants are small.

However, some varieties of Hosta are more resistant than others.  Generally, the thicker the leaf, the lest likely the slugs will like them.  Also some of the bluer hosta are not as appealing.  You don't see too many holes, if any in the blues.

Deer are a second problem, at the Farmer's Market in Truro, not a Saturday morning goes by without some one complaining about the deer eating their hosta. They are far more of a problem in towns where it is not uncommon for you to look out your window and see a deer looking back in.


A friend describes being wakened in the night by a 'rippppp'  then a 'chomp, chomp, chomp..' and looking out the bedroom window, nose to nose with a late night snacker.  I don't have deer problems (knock on wood) and you would think I would.  They have eaten my beans in the veggie garden, the tips of my cherry tree, and the crab apples in the fall, but they have not touched my hosta.  Is it because, out in this area, we have hunters in the fall and they are scared of us? or there are many farmed fields full of lush forage crops.  What ever the reason, I will count my blessings, and my hosta.

And can they quickly fill in, this bed drastically needs to have them divided either this fall or next spring.

On the other hand, minis can solve that problem.  Small, cute and easily divided with a trowel or small shovel.

Deer maybe an issue, but at least they have good taste.


Sunday, March 24, 2013


I don't mind the squirrels at the bird feeder except when they scratch up the window frames.  We put a new window in last fall  and I just happened to get a new bird feeder last fall also.  The new window frame is made of Fiberglas.  The squirrel just can't get a grip.  So he scampers up the cedar clapboards and makes a lunge for the feeder.

He gets on top, but because the top is metal (fake copper, it is already starting to rust) he has a hard time hanging on, and he can't figure out how to get around the top and down to the seed.  He usually drops to the ground and at least gives it one more go before giving up, and heads back to the woods.

Who needs one of those $100 fancy squirrel proof feeders, mine cost $15, even though it may not last that many years.  It would have been awfully cute to actually get a picture of him going through this, but I think he has given up.


Andrew bought me a new poll for Christmas.  He attached it to the railing where we could still see the feeder from the house  but where there would be less mess against the window from the birds.

The squirrel found it and yes he can get to it.

The feeder is designed that although he can get on the ledge of the feeder, he has problems staying there for any period of time.
So it is grab and go.

Back to the post and down.

At least they have entertainment value to the other occupants of the house.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weeding Through the Book Shelves

I love books.

      I was an avid reader as a child and had a good collections of the usual Anne of Green Gables, Trixie Blenton and Nancy Drew.   As I got older, I collected books on crafting and sewing.  I still have many of those.  As I became interested in gardening, so to added to my collection of books.  Cooking; dido.

      A few years ago I said enough is enough, to a point.  Out went my collection of novels, and I became an avid admirer of our local library for those types of books.  I found I read them once and did not wish to read them again, and if I did, I knew where to find them.

But my garden and cook books (I did weed through those) remained.

     I am very particular lately in the books I purchase as of late. No Cole's books for me. I want to learn something.

      I like reference books, ie... Perennials (Phillips and Rix), The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation (Dirr), Hardy Succulents (Kelaidis)... and the list goes on.

As you see, I have an extensive collection of wildflower books.


      Andrew usually gets me a gardening or cooking magazine for my stocking.  Lately it usually has been cooking, but this year he got me the BHG Country Gardens fall 2012 issue.  As I was flipping through it (he picked this one because it had a section on rock gardens), here was an article on Vintage Garden Books. 

      Years ago,  I started to collect old garden books (and cook books), particularly old garden reference books.  This little group probably started it off, "How to Know the Wild Flowers" by the Educational Publishing Co.  Printed in 1905, it is in great condition.  I think it came from my father-in-law's collection of government publications.  I went through his collection he brought with him when he retired from working for the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture as a Horticultural Technician.  His job was to oversee the Alumni Gardens at the Agricultural College and to dispense advice to anyone who called (a former 'Marjory Willison or Master Gardener).  Try finding anyone there to do that now.

      Then I started to pick up old reference, gardening books when I saw them, I guess I seem to have been particularly interested in wildflower books.

      But I also picked up disease and insect injury books.  There methods of eradicating and treating the problems may be out dated (lots of chemical solutions) but they at least help identify the problems of particular plants; then with the identity solved; a quick check either on line or another book, the problem can (not always) be solved.

       Garden's North no longer prints a catalog; a shame, because they are a valuable reference.  I am constantly going back to them.  Now when I purchase seed, I cut and paste the descriptions to my computer for future reference.

      This is one of my favourites, Wyman's Gardening Encyclopedia.  It has everything (almost).  Andrew's Dad has a copy and I used to flip through it all the time.  I found my own at a local antique shop for $20.  No hesitation.  I use it all the time.

He still has some older books I covet (maybe I'll inherit them).