Late Hosta Photos

I was walking down Hampshire St. here in Quincy late yesterday afternoon. Most of the numerous hosta cultivars have finished blooming, but I happened across a late-blooming variety which was particularly striking.

Most people have never heard of him, but we should be grateful to an early-19th-century doctor and botanist; Philipp Franz von Siebold was responsible for introducing many hosta species to Europe — it didn’t take long before the genetically plastic plants spread to eager plant breeders in North America. (Note: I’m using the word “plastic” in the botanical and genetic sense of the word, meaning roughly “easily tweaked and varied”.)

The late-blooming hosta I encountered was one of the larger varieties. The inflorescence of the variety is snowy-white and quite fetching. Some photos:

Bud-cluster radiating nicely:

A frontal view of an unopened bud, rather parasol-ish:

A bane of gardeners who maintain perennial beds is the sneaky way tree seedlings have of lurking in the shade and building up root systems, until one year they rise above the cultivated competition and make their bid for the lion’s share of precious sunlight. Here’s a tiny pin oak planning its strategy for next year:

This seedling oak most likely originated from an acorn buried by a squirrel. It’s probably two or three years old and its root system has most likely penetrated to a depth of eighteen inches by now. Cut it back to the ground and the tree will interpret this as a challenge and sprout vigorously again. Roundup herbicide carefully applied to the leaves when they emerge next spring(perhaps with a paint brush) is about all that can be done without tearing up the bed. This tree could be used as an excuse to divide the bed!

I’ve known gardeners who, starting with a single plant, have repeatedly divided a patch over a period of several years and ended up with dozens of patches, in some cases providing a perennial border for a driveway or sidewalk.

One of my favorite hosta varieties (actually a family of varieties now) is sometimes called Hosta sieboldii. You’ve seen ’em; they are the large-leaved hostas with glaucous blue-green leaves. The variety is named after the doctor and botanist referenced above.

Larry

3 comments on “Late Hosta Photos

  1. Claire says:

    That one is most likely Plantaginea. AKA August Lily. It’s one of the oldest ones and you find it around old churches, cemetaries, etc. too. It really does have the prettiest flowers. Newer varieties which may be related to it are Fragrant Bouquet, Guacamole, and Stained Glass. All are late bloomers with large flowers. Also relating to your post: there is a boatload of Sieboldiana cultivars.

  2. Larry says:

    Thanks for the info, Claire!

    (Claire is a friend from my Missouri days who knows her hostas!)

  3. Jeff says:

    I saw a story in a gardening magazine once on a garden all of whose plants were blue-grey in color- interesting! As for the tree sprouts, I found a good technique years ago, when I returned from 4 years in California to find that my mother had let tree sprouts come up in all the flower beds around her house: take a garden hose with preferably an old-fashioned, “fire-hose”- type nozzle and direct a medium stream just next to the trespasser; slowly use the jet like a drill, excavating a narrow hole in the ground. start exerting a gentle pull, and the sprout will usually surrender to this (I’ve gotten 1″ diameter mulberry sprouts out with this method) once its rooting medium is turned to mud, while the infusion of water helps combat shock to any surrounding plants whose root systems are traumatized by the assault. Be sure to fill and tamp the hole left when done (I like to use compost, as a “reward” for the neighboring plants having to put up with the interloper)!

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