Every once and awhile a plant comes along that quickly becomes a personal favourite. If if truth be told, I am pretty sure I have developed a secret hosta addiction. When I visit greenhouses, I invariably wander over to the hosta collection and begin convincing myself I need another flowerbed or perhaps that I can find room in the back flowerbed for one more hosta. Whether it is the tropical leaves or the fact these plants have been life savers for shady spots, I’m not sure, but I do know they are one of the most brilliant plants in my yard.

I have two areas where my hosta grow. One is along the back fence where they do not receive any direct sunlight throughout the day. The hosta in this part of the yard do well mostly; we’ll get to that in a moment. In the other area they are under trees and get part sun throughout the day. One might think they would flourish with more sunlight, but, alas, they do not seem to be that robust. Hosta typically grow in zones 3 and up. For years, I have heard how you must mulch them to protect from the thaw and freeze cycles of spring. I really have never worried about this as hostas take so long to come up that by the time their frost-sensitive leaves are up, we are well past any frost dates. Mind you there have been late frosts where you would have been graced by the sight of me running through my back yard frantically covering the fragile leaves of my beloved hostas with old towels and sheets. My plants are in a clay based sandy soil and would surely benefit from a more loam-like soil. I amend my soil yearly with my own compost and additions of peat and manure, but it takes a while to build rich soil.  Hostas like consistent moisture, but not sitting in wet soil. I have a hosta in a drier location and it really hasn’t grown as well. Its growth is stunted, very few leaves, and it flowers early. It’s loudly vocalizing a lack of appreciation for the location despite my efforts to water regularly during dry periods.

I have tried to keep plant tags, but over the years they were lost or taken out promising myself I would create a plant log along with photos. We all know what happens with good intentions… So having said this, here are the cultivars I have grown in my small yard with success. There are literally thousands of different varieties. From miniatures to those that stretch to almost 90 cm; there seems to be a hosta every gardener can love.
Hosta ‘Francee’– hardy, have spread about 2 feet or 60 cm. Produce several stalks with numerous purple flowers. Hummingbirds visit flowers often.
Hosta ‘Antioch’– slower to grow. Liked the slimmer, more pointed leaves. Leaves have touch of white on edges, but brilliant green. Just flowered for first time this year.
Hosta ‘Northern Exposure’– has creamy, yellow edges. Deep green, broad leaves. Has done well in a somewhat exposed area of garden.                                                                                           Hosta ‘Rainforest Sunrise’– lime green centre with dark olive edges, slower growth rate, but well worth it. This plant is a show stopper and adds incredible colour and interest to the garden. This year I have added (yes, I made another flowerbed) the following: Hosta ‘Stained Glass’, H. ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, H. ‘Patriot’,   H. ‘Halcyon’, and H. ‘Fire and Ice’. I will update you on how they do in the spring.

Now I mentioned something about a hosta in my yard not doing well. Generally Hostas are really resistant to pests. Slugs seem to be their only enemy and I have not had to battle slugs in my current location. I have fought slugs and will follow up with a post on how victory was mine against the formidable slug another day. This particular hosta did well last year, but I had noticed slightly wrinkled leaves. In my reading, I have not come across viruses that affect hostas, but it is possible. As well, my mom always said there were weak plants that were never really healthy to begin with. This year the hosta in question barely grew 30 cm, and yet has bloomed with normal, abundant leaves. It is half the size of the hostas it has grown up by. To fight the unseen foe or conquer a site issue, I’ve ensured it was well watered and laid a good heap of compost under it. It has perked up, but I will decide its fate at the end of the growing season.

Below are some lovely photos of hostas my friend Lorraine shared. They are so vibrant and healthy! I love how she has planted different cultivars side-by-side. This really creates depth and interest in the garden. Thank you, Lorraine, for sharing.

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Hello Gardening World!

So why write a blog about gardening in the North? And what is this, “North” I am referring to? Well, the answer to the first question wasn’t as easy to pinpoint as I first thought. No, I had to really sit and think about this one. It had to be that I was passionate about digging in the earth and trying new things every year. Yes, that answers it somewhat, but there is more. What would compel me to want to put it in print? My life is busy enough and I have other interests outside of work that take up my time. Why write it?

While pondering this I realized it is about sharing what gardening does for me as a person and, most importantly, my soul. However, it struck me that every garden I have created is a reflection of me and perhaps, the life experiences I was going through at the time. Every time I work amongst plants, I am creating, I am fixing, or I am building something that never was. I liken this to what an artist does. I express who I am through my garden and, hence, my soul shines through. So if I can bring whatever knowledge I have or create a platform for others to share and express their ideas about their gardening adventures, then I believe writing about my gardening experiences completes that expression of self.

Now that was deep, wasn’t it? I promise you I prefer a little levity when writing. So to answer my second question why I want to blog about gardening in the North, well, that’s where I live. Currently, I reside just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. To say our climate in Alberta is variable is an understatement. It isn’t uncommon for the temperature to vary 20 degrees within one day. Need I say what stress this can place on plants? Northern climates present unique challenges even to the most experienced gardener. Through this blog I hope others will share how they deal with the trials northern gardeners face. As well, I look forward to hearing about favourite plants, success stories and what gardening does for you.

Finally, I have to admit to the two realities of my blog before I log off for today. First, I am not a professional writer as will become evident if you continue to read my posts. While I am a teacher by trade, I have yet to write the great Canadian novel or travel in the same circles as authors. My writing is from my heart and reflects a conversational tone. I guess that is what blogging is about. It won’t be perfect and I am sure those bent upon correct grammatical form will have a lot to comment on. I promise I will aim to do my best and, yet,  still be somewhat entertaining. Secondly, I do not claim to be a plant expert or garden guru. However, I do love to share ideas and have garden/plant conversations. So please share!