In season: hostas

Hostas can be the gardener’s best friend, with their shimmering multi-hued leaves, ranging from white through yellow to green and and onto the bluest of blues. Delicate spires of flowers in mauve, white and purple rise in summer, but best of all, these are perennials that thrive in the shade.

Hostas are the perfectly behaved plant; their leaves come out in late spring, and look good all summer before dying back in winter. Some can be vulnerable to snails, so spread some gravel round the base as a deterrent. If they are in pots, a copper band around the rim may also deter slugs and snails from feasting on the leaves. Some people like to use crushed up egg shells, see what works for you. Add a good feed and a 5-10cm mulch of compost or leaf mould around the plants to encourage good, thick leaf growth.

Contrary to popular belief, hostas do not just produce leaves, all hosta varieties produce flowers, and some are beautifully fragrant. As plants, they give architectural structure to a garden adding subtle colour and texture, too. A good idea is to plant different varieties in pots and then position them to create waves of blue/green colour to your liking. You could then replant them in your favourite arrangement to establish them in your beds and borders.

They can be large leaved but look out for little leaved varieties such as (H. ‘Blue Mouse Ears’) which is a recently bred adorable miniature hosta just 10-15cm tall. It has small rounded mouse-ear-shaped leaves and exquisite lavender blue flowers in a neat clump.

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