Botanical Buzz | Curious case of Hosta plants

Hosta plants: A perennial favourite among gardeners. Their lush foliage and easy care make them ideal for a low maintenance garden.

Hosta plants: A perennial favourite among gardeners. Their lush foliage and easy care make them ideal for a low maintenance garden.

Botanist Nicholas Host.

Botanist Nicholas Host.

The curious case of the invisible Hosta plants!​ When he arrived for his yearly visit, our long-time Japanese Gardener/Advisor proposed we grow Hosta Lilies. It took me off-guard and I found myself mumbling incoherent misgivings along the lines of, “Oh Dear, Oh Deary me!”

Being foliage plants of the first order, Hostas have been described as indispensable by enthusiasts. They can be used for borders, containers, on patios, in shady rock gardens, and today some are capable of withstanding full sun.

Origin is the Far East, mainly China, Japan and Korea. There are discovered some forty species, with a developed over a thousand cultivars. I wish you well in picking what suits you. Hosta is a western name to honour Austrian botanist Nicholas Host. This came about in 1812, the famous year of composer Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

This dramatic music score commemorates the Russian campaign of Napoleon in that year. His evacuation in the snows of winter had all the distress of the British in Dunkirk 1940. Complete with roaring cannons and clashing symbols the dramatic music piece was the epic Star Wars music score of it’s day.

Have you heard of them? The Hostas I mean. When our Japanese Gardener nominated a bunch under the hanging Albizia julibrissin (silk trees) beside the waterfall, I shuddered. And it wasn’t just from the damp and cold of winter 2016. Would they survive a Dubbo summer?

Napoleon’s Empress Josephine planted Hostas in her country chateau of Malmaison, Mr. Hibberd 1825-90 (he had the unfortunate first name of Shirley, poor chap), included Hostas in the herbaceous border.

This was alongside other hardy plants like Daylilies, Cranesbill Geraniums, Foxgloves, Campanulas, Peonies, Astilbes and Achilleas. All plants worthy of consideration for our Sensory Garden in Elizabeth Park.

Today the Japanese are reclaiming their Hostas. Back in our Japanese Garden in Dubbo we will have to be vigilant for Gastropoda slimy crawlers like slugs and snails as they love the unfurled leaves of Hostas to bits --- Literally. Be an Aussie and put out a slat saucer of beer for these pests to guzzle to their demise.

But where are our Hostas? Our nursery agent can’t locate them and perhaps it is more discreet to hold back until summer’s end. The cannons and fuses are set for a blast. We are not in retreat. It is a tactical holding back. Hold your applause until the weather improves.