2013 fall plant orders, part 2

Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’ in the garden. Who can deny the beauty of that foliage? Stuff like this made me order more.

When I first started gardening I didn’t care for Hosta much.  I wanted the flashy perennials that wowed you with colorful flowers, fruit, and foliage.  What I didn’t realize then is that those characteristics are often a flash in the pan; you’re later left with nothing but drab brown seed pods, wilting foliage, or worse — a carpet of solid green.

That doesn’t mean that Hosta are the ultimate answer.  But what they can do is provide a stable architectural foundation in your garden from spring to fall that you can utilize when designing the rest of your beds.  And they’re not ugly!  Some are fragrant, many are variegated in hues of white, cream, gold, steely blue, even picking up hints of orange and red now.  Their sizes vary, they’re tough and don’t need a ton of water or maintenance, and they all have different architectural qualities.  So when I was looking at all of the holes in my garden this summer I realized that I really needed more Hosta.

After looking around online I placed an order this fall from New Hampshire Hostas¹.  They had great prices and great stock, so I figured “Why not?”   Here’s what I ordered:

  • 1 Athyrium filix­-femina ‘Victoriae’
  • 3 Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Coconut Custard’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Doubled Up’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Dream Queen’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Dress Blues’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Extasy’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Fantabulous’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Flemish Sky’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Frozen Margarita’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Gentle Giant’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Goodness Gracious’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Great Expectations’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Ice Prancer’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Kiwi Full Monty’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Orange Marmalade’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Prairie Sky’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Rainforest Sunrise’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Shimmy Shake’
  • 1 Hosta ‘Striptease’
  • 2 Hosta ‘Tiny Bubbles’

My big order of Hosta had arrived!

All of the Hosta laid out on the coffee table. Lula looks on approvingly.

The plants all arrived in great shape, and although some of the plants had lost their leaves because it was so late in the season I could tell that the crowns and roots were strong.

Of course, I’m faced with the same problem as last time. Where do I put them all? I have ideas, but time is running out as Old Man Winter approaches. I may plant them in a holding bed with a lot of mulch to prevent heaving, then get out there in the spring and move them to permanent homes.

It will be tough to wait. Some of these Hosta are really exciting to me — ‘Gentle Giant’ can reach 6′ wide and 4′ tall; how’s that for a bold statement in the garden?  Maybe I’ll have to order more in the spring…

¹ I have no business relationship with New Hampshire Hostas at the time of this writing.

2013 fall plant orders, part 1

Half of the plants from the order

I used to order plants via mail fairly frequently, but because of time and monetary constraints I slacked off for a while.

Until this fall.  It all started when I was looking for a replacement for my beloved Dirca palustris which had been broken by some careless tree trimmers who worked for the power company.  They didn’t actually kill it, but they broke it in half and opened up a perfect space underneath for my dog, Romeo.  On hot summer days Romeo would dig deep and curl into the exposed roots to keep himself cool.  However, I love Romeo and hate the tree trimmers, so I’m giving the tree trimmers full blame.

The original plant came from Woodlanders nursery in 2003, but their recent catalogs didn’t list leatherwood any more.  Until this fall, that is.  I was so excited to finally have a source again, but shipping was going to be expensive.  “I’d better order more plants since I have to pay pretty much the same shipping rate anyhow,” I rationalized.

I think every gardener who orders via mail has gone through this process to satisfy their plant lust.  There should be a support group.

Somehow I justified my way to twelve different items.  I upped the quantity to five for two of the plants, giving me twenty plants total:

  • Dirca palustris (to replace the murdered one)
  • Stewartia koreana (I’ve always wanted one)
  • Athyrium felix-femina var. felix-femina ‘Minutissimum’ (I have some of these ferns from Woodlanders and they’re great.  They stay 6″ high and are awesome with miniature hosta)
  • Clethra fargesii (why not?  It sounds interesting)
  • Clethra barbinervis (after hearing Dan Hinkley praise this plant so extensively, I had to try it in my own garden)
  • Salvia koyamae (I grew this with great success for several years, until the one year that Aegopodium made its way to that bed and strangled the poor Salvia in the night)
  • Zenobia pulverulenta ‘Woodlanders Blue’ (I tried this in 2003, but killed it pretty quickly.  I wanted to have another shot)
  • Franklinia alatamaha (I have always wanted to try this plant because of its rich and fascinating history)
  • Hosta yingeri (Mine from 2003 is flourishing, but lonely; I ordered five friends)
  • Oxydendrum arboreum (Another interesting plant that I really should be growing.  The only one in town was cut down)
  • Viburnum acerifolium (Another 2003 plant that was getting lonely; it now has a friend to shout across the garden to)
  • Viburnum sieboldii ‘Seneca’ (I don’t know why.  I got caught up in ordering, I think)

The other half of the order, mostly perennials.

I have places in mind for many of these, but not all.  My eyes were bigger than my stomach.  I mean yard.

So what am I going to do with them?  Since the plants came from South Carolina (which is considerably warmer than East Central Illinois), I hardened the plants in the garage at night and left them outside during the day.  Because it’s so late in the season I may not get a well-established root system before winter, so I’ll add a heavy layer of mulch after planting these bareroot beauties to help protect against frost heaving.

Once I figure out where they go, that is.