Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hostas in the sun

One of my pet gardening peeves are hostas planted in full sun. You've all seen it, I'm sure. I often see them planted alone and lonely (or even in a group of three) at one edge of the shade-free lawn, their leaves ratty and burned.

I understand that not everyone is as gardening obsessed as am I. Given the expense and work of planting a garden, though, you'd think folks might
pay a bit more attention to the plant label advising shade or sun.

A recent trangression occurred in my hometown in a newly planted memorial garden. The garden is planted in a bit of open space at the site of a former church (burned to the ground in days past) in the center of
town. It is a gorgeous spot for a rock garden --I can easily visualize a garden of rock cress, sea thrift, sedums, etc. Undulating up from the sidewalk rises a huge old granite ledge, emerging from the soil like a breaching whale. Every year the surrounding grass is brown and crispy by mid-July. Now the site boasts a new garden of tidily sited New Guinea Impatiens, surrounded by red-dyed shredded bark mulch. At one edge is a newly planted flowering crab, as yet casting no shade. I have yet to see anyone watering it, but I hope they are, although watering will no doubt only prolong the inevitable. At least this garden was planted by volunteers, well-meaning, but probably not trained horticulturalists.

On my recent garden tours, and at my recent visit to the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, New York, I saw lots of similar examples. The two photos were taken at the Landis Arboretum. Note in the above left photo the large hosta just a few plants away from the sun-loving Lamb's Ears.
In the photo to the right, that's another gorgeous large-leaved, blue-green with lime edge varigated hosta baking to the right of the fern-leaf coreopsis. Unfortunately, the blazing full sun made for poor photography, so the crisping leaves of the hostas don't show up well in the photos. This planting to me is particularly egregious, as the place is an arboretum with an educational mission --and yet they are demonstrating poor design practices in their primary perennial planting.

I see it so often, especially driving, that I've got a song -- to the tune of Riders On the Storm (with apologies to Jim Morrison and the Doors). I entertain myself on trips by making up new verses.

Hostas in the sun
Hostas in the sun
Not a raincloud in the sky
You know they're gonna fry
Hostas in the sun

Please gardeners, don't make me write any more verses. Plant your hostas in the shade, where they will reward you with years of big, beautiful leaves. Leaves which don't get burned and ratty until the frost.

1 comment:

Weezer said...

Ohhhhh Ali you are soooo right!!!
We planted 4-5 hosta to surround our 20 foot birch, which gave filtered light to flicker down on our hosta. However, the poor birch died. That provoked us to dig up the 7-10 year old hosta plants, remove any weeds or unwanted grass & transplant them to the rear of the house where they receive BRIGHT (NOT DIRECT) light. I too, see gardens & think how in the world do they think that planting will survive! It’s like taking marigolds & think they’ll make good houseplants in a lowlight window - - HELLO!!!!