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The Gardener's Guide to Growing Hostas
by Diana Grenfeld
160 pp, 74 color photos, 5 line drawings , 7 x 9 1/2", paperback.
This accessible guide to growing hostas will appeal to the novice and experienced gardener alike. Excellent photographs accompany the advice on these herbaceous perennials from a first-rate garden writer.
I became interested in hostas quite by chance. When I was expecting my daughter Claudia nearly 30 years ago I used to listen to Woman's Hour , and a series on famous women and their favourite plants caught my imagination. The late but still lovingly remembered Lady Isobel Barnett, of What's My Line fame -- someone who, to my mind, had exceedingly good taste -- extolled the virtues of hostas; in her opinion, they were the perfect plants for gardening in the shade. I had never heard of them, but immediately set off to the local garden centre and bought the very few which were available at that time. But that was enough. From then on I was hooked and I became utterly fascinated by them.
When I first started collecting hostas we were grateful for any and every new one that came our way. We tolerated faults such as leaves that scorched at the slightest bit of sun, thin, limp leaves that were scarcely a credit to the genus, yellow leaves which faded to dull green before the season had really got under way. Now we are much more discriminating. We want the leaves to be well-shaped and beautifully coloured and to form a pleasing symmetrical mound; the scape height to be in proportion with the leaf mound; the flowers to open well, be well presented, a good colour and preferably scented too; and, as a final bonus, we want the leaves to die off gracefully in the autumn, giving an extra season of leaf colour. Flower arrangers probably need to be even greater perfectionists than gardeners. They are keen judges of variegation and the poise of a leaf, and they need leaves which remain turgid for long spells in water.
The amazing thing is that breeders have not only come up with hostas that meet all these demanding criteria but more besides, and we are spoiled for choice. The purpose of this book is to guide not only the general gardener but also the keen collector through this wealth of delectable hostas, to help them make choices of which to grow, and to give such cultural advice as will help growers to get the best from their hostas.
About the Author
Diana Grenfell, a co-founder of the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society, is the author of The Color Encyclopedia of Hostas, The Gardeners Guide to Growing Hostas and The Gardener's Guide to Growing Daylilies. She operates the well-known nursery, Apple Court, at Lymington in Hampshire with her husband, Roger Grounds, author of The Plantfinders Guide to Ornamental Grasses.