Frosting on the Cake HostaMonday, July 20, 2020
|Top left - Hosta 'First Frost' & flower - bottom, two leaf versions of my Hosta 'Autum Frost'- July 21 2020
The end of June marks the time when our once-blooming roses are long gone and the remontant ones are at rest until a month from now.
So I look at our hostas with renewed interest and find solace during this pandemic to see which ones I can justify to scan for fun.
While I am no garden expert or botanical guru I can assert an almost universal idea that hostas are the white-mice of the plant kingdom.
We know that plants that are found in the wild are called species plants. We know that if we bring in those plants into a nursery or garden and tinker with them they produce what is commonly called a cultivar. These cultivars, sometimes when planted in mass, with some observation, a gardener with an eye for detail might notice one or two with a mutation. Perhaps it is a rose with more scent than the one next to it. With hostas it is easier to discern a wider white edge or a bluer version of a blue hosta next to it.
|Hosta Áutum Frost' 22 May 2020
The next step is to select these and grow them separately. They will sometimes then produce offspring, in some cases through tissue culture cloning.
In the case of the Hosta ‘Halcyon’ which I wrote about here it took a human being (Eric Smith) to mix the pollen of two plants that normally did not flower at the same time.
In the hosta world, these plants that are mutations of species and selected or hybridized, are called sports. One of the most famous sports in recent hosta memory is Hosta ‘June’ which is a sport of Hosta ‘Halcyon’.
There are other ways that hostas in particular can be nudged (forced?) to sport. Some of these methods (believe it or not) involve spraying a whole row of identical hostas with herbicide in spring and noting the ones that survive. There are also rumours in the hosta world of the use of the microwave to initiate sporting!
|Rosa 'La Belle Sultane'' & Hosta 'Autumn Frost' 16 June 2020
A lovely sport of Hosta ‘Halcyon’ is Hosta ‘First Frost’. As in my scan of some of its leaves you might note its wonderful instability and propensity to go like the Enterprise to uncharted areas.
A sport of the sport, Hosta ‘First Frost’ has a wider margin than its parent. When I saw a First Frost in one of my local nurseries I chose one that had a wider white margin. It was yellow when I saw it and not at this date the yellow has become an almost startling white.
In this day of rapid change it is somewhat comforting to see plants that abide with the times.
|Hosta 'First Frost' July 26 2017