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With ‘liberty’ And Hostas For All

Spring has arrived and what’s old becomes new again in every garden. It’s like an annual gift of spring. Among the renewals are the fresh, new leaves poking from the crown of a hosta, or plantain lily.

THERE ARE LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF HOSTA LILY VARIETIES from which to choose. Old ones, new ones, little ones, and big ones—what is a garden without a few hostas? Last summer the leaves of Hosta ‘Liberty,’ caught my eye. Its stunning, thick leaves can grow up to 12 inches long and 10 inches wide. They have a green center and an unusually wide, yellow margin that fades to cream as the leaves mature in the summer.

HOSTAS SEEM TO GROW WHERE NO OTHER PLANT WILL, but do best in areas with good soil and consistent moisture. Liberty can grow about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Hostas do seem to rule the no-fuss shade garden, and boldly variegated varieties such as Liberty can bring life to a dark or drab spot. They can be planted singly, but I prefer to plant them in a group for an elegant look.

MOST HOSTAS ARE GROWN FOR THEIR FOLIAGE but they also flower. The tall flower spike of Liberty emerges in early summer and holds pale lavender, tubular flowers that are sometimes fragrant and can attract hummingbirds. Remove the flower spikes after flowering to enjoy the foliage without interruption until fall.

EASY-TO-GROW HOSTAS NEED LITTLE MAINTENANCE, but slugs and deer can be a problem, albeit a manageable one. Hosta lilies seem timeless and are still a relevant choice for low-maintenance gardens today.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.


by Angie McManus

Q My neighbors have mature pine, maple, and tulip poplar around their border. I’m thinking about growing haskaps, gooseberry, currant, and/or elderberry as a hedge. Would the roots of those big trees interfere with those shrubs?

A Planting around tree roots is always a challenge. The answer to your question really depends on how far out the tree roots extend and if the canopy will shade the area you want to plant. Hopefully, the tree roots are a good distance away and the canopies will not filter the sunlight.

The only way to find out about the roots is to take your spade and start prepping the area. All of the planting options you mentioned require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight; this is true for all berries. If you do not get full sun, then berries will not be a good planting option, but there are many wonderful ornamentals that make lovely hedges.

Tree roots will always win when it comes to moisture and if the roots are close to your hedge, you will have to hand water to get them established and throughout the season when water is in short supply.

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