Top Ten Hostas (For the Moment)

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By Joan Butler

With so many great hosta to choose from, creating a list of ten favorites turned out to be a daunting task. As I strolled my gardens, so many hostas caught my eye and jockeyed for position on my list. Thoughts of hostas I have admired in other gardens added to the delightful confusion.

Finally, I decided to choose five hostas that awe me every year, and five hostas that are awing me at this moment. Already, as I look at my list, I wish I had room for more! Hostas like ‘Paradigm’, ‘Cup of Grace’, ‘Whirlwind’, ‘Dick Ward’, ‘Sun Power’, ‘Salute’, ‘Little Wonder’ are also awing me at this moment and deserve recognition. Maybe on the next list….

1. Hosta ‘Liberty’ 

Large, 4’wide x 2.5’ high, possibly larger. Dark blue-green leaves with a wide margin of golden yellow form an upright clump. Its size, bright variegation and form make it a “wow” plant that is a focal point in any garden.

2. Hosta ‘Queen of the Seas’   

Large, 6’ wide x 4’ high. Forms a beautiful architectural clump of blue-gray leaves, deeply ribbed with pie crust edges. Breathtaking as it unfurls in spring and a commanding presence all season long.

3. Hosta ‘Guacamole’  

Large, 4’ wide x 2’high. This hosta made the list for two reasons. The first: its green-edged chartreuse leaves have a satiny gleam that makes them look springtime fresh throughout the growing season. The second: its large flowers are fragrant! Plus, this hosta is a fast grower, and can take plenty of sun.

4. Hosta ‘Allegan Fog’ 

Medium, 2’ wide x 1.5’ high. Gently rippled leaves with a curved tip and variegation that changes as the season progresses, make this a favorite. The leaves are irregularly margined with dark green; the centers are white in spring, changing to pale green flecked and misted with darker green. Lovely.

5. Hosta ‘Little Miss Magic  

Small, 1’ wide x 6” high. The spring foliage of this little beauty is brilliant yellow! Add to that the lance-shaped form of its rippled leaves, and you have garden perfection.

6. Hosta ‘Duke of Cornwall  

Large,5’ wide x 2’ high. Big, heart-shaped dark green/blue leaves have a wide, feathered pale green margin in spring. The margin changes to ivory, a feature which looks especially dramatic by the light of the moon. Every time I see this hosta at night, I think it would make a great addition to a moon garden because of its large size and corresponding amount of white detail.

7. Hosta ‘Shade Fanfare’

 Medium, 2’ wide x 1’ high. Apple green heart-shaped leaves have wide creamy margins and a pointy tip. The leaf surface is slightly seer-suckered, a detail I am always drawn to in hostas. A delicate overall appearance on a sturdy plant.

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8. Hosta ‘Raspberry Sorbet’

 Small, 1.5’ x 8”. Lanceolate, dark green leaves are very shiny, rippled and twisted, with petioles streaked with red. Its flower scapes do not rise straight up from the center as in other hostas, but emerge at an angle spaced all around the plant. To add to this: the petioles and calyxes are streaked with raspberry pink and the flowers are pale lavender with purple stripes. Wow.

9. Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ 

Small, 11” wide x 6” tall. Blue-green leaves are shallowly cupped and held horizontally. Charming flowers are held low on the plant, and are lavender with violet stripes. This hosta is very popular, and deservedly so. It is easily grown and likes morning sun.

10. Hosta ‘Little Ann’ 

Miniature, 3” tall. This sweet little hosta is a spreading type, with golden foliage and a narrow cream edge. It is useful as an underplanting for upright hosta and at the front of the border. As with other yellow hosta, its spring brilliance is outstanding.

If you are interested in learning more about these and hundreds of other hosta, visit the Hosta Library website http://www.hostalibrary.org/index.html. Arranged alphabetically, the site features numerous pictures of popular and rare hostas, many photos taken in garden settings.

Joan Butler enjoys her collection of more than 300 hostas in her beautiful half-acre garden in Holliston, MA. She is an active member of the New England and American Hosta Societies and served as co-chairman of the garden selection committee for the 2011 National Hosta Convention. Her own garden was featured in a tour of the New England Hosta Society in the summer of 2011.