Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hosta Flowers

No self-respecting gardener admits growing hostas for their flowers. At least no one I know. Until now: I do.

Of course, such an admission assumes that (a) I am self-respecting, and (b) I am a gardener. For the sake of argument, let's just accept those assumptions.

True, I do not select, nor have I ever selected, hostas for their flowers (this defense sounds vaguely Clinton-esque, doesn't it?). Indeed, most garden centers sell hostas well before they sport their spikes of rather sparse and somewhat meager flowers, thus making it impossible to purchase based on floral display. But that is no matter, for hostas attract with, and are prized for, their foliage: ovate or lanceolate (acicular, acuminate, cordate, feathered, lobed, obcordate, obovate, sagitate, or serrated, among other types); smooth or rugose; viridescent, lutescent, or albescent; solid color (blues, greens, yellows, golds), variegated, medio-variegated, or marginally variegated. Diversity indeed!

At this time of year, though, the hosta offers another bedazzling treat as it sends up tall spikes of white, mauve, or purple flowers that tower over its base, reaching towards the skies, its tubular flowers drooping as if paying homage to the foliage that begot them.

I know many gardeners who simply cut these stalks, for they do look a bit unkempt. What an act of theft, I say! Nay, an act of horticultural treachery!

Of course, trimming the untidy is no different than pruning a bush, for the method and the effect are the same: the deliberate act of manipulating nature to achieve a particular aesthetic. So it appears the snob is not the hosta flower foe who intrepidly annihilates the scruffy spikes, but me: the one who condemns those who do so, even as he merrily prunes and shapes a myriad of plants to achieve a desired look. Shame on me! (Why do these posts escape me ever so?!)

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