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A Note on Solid-Colored Hosta

Hosta Midnight Hour. Photo from the Hosta Library.

The shade garden tends to be a more quiet, serene place. That’s not to say you can’t get color in shade. Hostas come in green, blue, yellow, and any combination of those colors with white as well. With sizes ranging from a 3” by 3” clump with thumb-sized leaves to giants that are 48” high and 72” or more wide, and leaves up to 16” by 12”, you can really brighten up your shade garden. 

But is there such a thing as too much color? While color is good, with so many possible combinations the garden can become a chaotic place instead of the calming retreat you were aiming for. Just as landscape designers encourage more white in sunny gardens to add unity and allow the eye to rest, shade gardens need solid-colored hostas to offer that stability. 

Repeating the punctuation of solid blue or green creates a sense of unity and directs your eye through the garden to the next pop of color. It allows you to slow down, which is especially important in the shade garden. 
The thread of continuity lets the viewer relax and feel a sense of calm. 

Another thing the shade garden can offer is an chance to focus on texture. Think of Japanese gardens, which don’t typically have a lot of color but where the variety of forms and texture provides the interest. Lacy ferns are often used to introduce texture, but hostas are great for that as well. Some have smooth shiny leaves, while others have rippled edges, thick leaves, cascading mounds, heavy corrugation, upright forms, deeply veined leaves, and more. All make the garden alive with texture. Please note that it often takes a few years of maturity for these leaf qualities to really come out in the plants.

As you shop the sale, we encourage you to consider the solid-­colored hostas. They are anything but boring, and you will be amazed at the difference they make in your garden.

 

—Mary Schwartzbauer, past president of the American Hosta Society and one of the Friends School Plant Sale organizers

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