After a few years of gardening I realized how much I take hostas for granted. They are ever present in the shade and will grow where no plant has grown before. Their relative worth of thriving in the shade tends to underscore their absolute value as ornamental plants, but hostas can hold their own with the rest of the perennials in terms of bloom quality, fragrance, foliage and easy maintenance.

This curious phenomenon happens, the very qualities that make a flower popular for landscaping undermine the gardeners' appreciation for it, makes it "common" or "standard". To right this wrong I will bring up a few cultivars that can create spectacular displays for shady flower beds.

Do you want a majestic fragrant white flower that grows four foot tall? You have to give Hosta Plantaginea a try. It's potent scent and blooming time earned it the name August Lily.

For a full month of summer bloom, try Krossa Regal, a petite variety with a compact vase shape habit. For me they are almost like daffodils for the end of summer. Their little shrubs function unnoticed as groundcover for most of the year, but towards the end of July they wake up and bloom generously, filling the garden with cool lavender flowers.

For the lovers of interesting foliage, the variegated patterns of Frances Williams look almost painted by an artist, a cool gradient of lime green and greenish blue that is very striking in deep shade.

Orange Marmalade's leaves are actually a deep warm yellow, festooned lightly with bright green. Hadspen blue hostas have the most unusual leaf color, an intense velvety shade of dark blue gray.

Empress Wu's leaves are absolutely enormous, it grows as tall as a person and dwarfs everything around it by comparison. May hostas' leaves are a subdued warm yellow with a slight metallic sheen that makes them look like they are covered in old gold.

The one drawback of hostas is that if you want to plant them in full sun, you can't. There are some varieties that are "sun tolerant", which means that if you absolutely have to and can't find anything else, they will endure the ordeal, but not welcome it. Hosta leaves get scorched into oblivion in a location with full sun exposure, some sooner than others, and will look so miserable after a few weeks that they'll give you a heart ache. Fortunately they are easy to move, so please be kind and move them back to the shade.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.