My favorite colors are red and orange. But there is a color that has crept into my life that I have to admit I sort of love, and it’s turned me into a hosta lover at the same time. That color is chartreuse, and my new favorite hosta is this one:
I have a confession to make. I have never really liked hostas. When we lived in Marietta, Georgia, hostas lined the back of our house, from the back door to the driveway. These plants that are known in the garden world as shade plants somehow survived in the full sun. And I don’t just mean sunlight for 8-12 hours straight. I mean sweltering hot, beating down, making the pavement too hot for bare feet sun. The thing is, even though those hostas survived, they didn’t do well. They were green through the summer, but they looked like they struggled, as we all did in the heat and humidity of Georgia summers. Those hostas put a bad taste in my mouth for the plant.
After that, I thought of hostas as a garden plant for people who couldn’t grow anything else. So when I started working at Carolina Gardener magazine, I was surprised to find out people actually liked hostas, and chose to put them in their gardens. In fact, there were gardeners with entire areas dedicated only to hostas. And there were so many varieties! Different sized leaves, different colors of green. But still, I wasn’t impressed.
When Bill and I moved into our first house, my mom brought a bunch of hostas in plastic grocery bags. Free plants dug up from the neighbors. I rolled my eyes and sighed, but I planted them in our yard. After all, these plants were free, and we needed something to spruce up the yard a little. Even then, I looked at hostas as a secondary plant. Something to fill up space, leaving the real show to my daylilies and irises.
So of course when I got the one in the picture, again for free, I planted it. But I didn’t expect to love it. I was just doing my duty, helping a free plant survive. Then something interesting happened. The next year, around the time the azaleas came into bloom but before anything else was blooming, the hosta poked its leaves out of the ground. And they weren’t the flat, kelly-green leaves I had always associated with hostas. They were slightly curled, with a dark green center and a chartreuse edging that really stood out among the other greens of the perennials growing around it. There’s something about that chartreuse that catches my attention every time I look at the garden. I can even see it as I drive up the driveway, providing a contrast among the perennials. And I find myself staring at the little hosta in awe, from the time it comes up in the spring all the way through fall, when its chartreuse leaves mix with the deep yellows and maroons of mums and asters.
Maybe there’s just something about chartreuse that makes the difference. This color seems to have personality all its own!