Kick up your part-shade garden with easy-care perennials

Gardens Plus owner Dawn Golloher talks about new hosta varieties, growing tips, and adding texture and colour to your shade gardens

Gardens Plus owner Dawn Golloher is the local queen of easy-care perennials including daylilies and hosta. The garden and greenhouse at Gardens Plus is a great place to visit and get inspired for your own garden expansion. July is a perfect time for a tour, with over 900 daylilies and 600 hosta on display, and more than 200 varieties of hosta for sale. (Photo: Gardens Plus)
Gardens Plus owner Dawn Golloher is the local queen of easy-care perennials including daylilies and hosta. The garden and greenhouse at Gardens Plus is a great place to visit and get inspired for your own garden expansion. July is a perfect time for a tour, with over 900 daylilies and 600 hosta on display, and more than 200 varieties of hosta for sale. (Photo: Gardens Plus)

Finding time to garden these days can challenging, with environmental and weather conditions changing every year and our busy lifestyles.

One of my saviours in these challenges is Dawn Golloher, owner of local gardening retailer Gardens Plus, located in Donwood just east of Peterborough.

Dawn has been my go-to for many years when I need to expand my daylily selection with different heights and colours, or expand my garden with greenery including textured grasses, ferns, and hosta. She is the local queen of easy-care perennials.

July is a peak time for Gardens Plus. With over 900 daylilies and 600 hosta on display, and more than 200 varieties of hosta for sale, Gardens Plus is a great place to tour and get inspired for your own garden expansion.

kawarthaNOW recently spoke to Dawn about embracing easy-care perennials. She shared with us her update on new hosta varieties, growing tips, and adding texture and colour to your shade gardens.

 

You can still add to your perennial garden in July, especially in part shade: the ideal location for the easy-to-grow perennial hosta. As well as the common green and green-and-white hosta, Gardens Plus has many new varieties with different textures, colours, and leaf shapes and sizes to enhance your garden. (Photo: Garden Plus)
You can still add to your perennial garden in July, especially in part shade: the ideal location for the easy-to-grow perennial hosta. As well as the common green and green-and-white hosta, Gardens Plus has many new varieties with different textures, colours, and leaf shapes and sizes to enhance your garden. (Photo: Garden Plus)

July isn’t too late to add to your perennial gardens, especially where it is cooler in the part shade.

We all have the common green and green-and-white hosta, but have you seen some of the newer varieties? Textures like quilted and colours like blue and gold, and so many leaf shapes and sizes!

Remember the Blue Mouse Ears Hosta? It’s still very popular, along with many other smaller varieties.

Popular smaller varieties of hosta (clockwise from top left): Blue Mouse Ears Hosta, Lakeside Paisley Print Hosta (hosta of the year), Abiqua Drinking Gourd Hosta, and the Cathedral Windows Hosta. (Photos: Garden Plus)
Popular smaller varieties of hosta (clockwise from top left): Blue Mouse Ears Hosta, Lakeside Paisley Print Hosta (hosta of the year), Abiqua Drinking Gourd Hosta, and the Cathedral Windows Hosta. (Photos: Garden Plus)

The hosta of the year this season is Lakeside Paisley Print, with an amazing pattern and only 10 inches tall. There’s also the Abiqua Drinking Gourd Hosta, whose cupped leaves they say will hold enough water that birds will bathe in them, and the Cathedral Windows Hosta, with its white fragrant blooms that smell like gardinias.

If giant hosta are your thing, move over Sum and Substance: the newer kids in town are Komodo Dragon and Empress Wu. Also check out Wu-La-La, a brand new giant hosta this year that’s related to Empress Wu — the largest hosta to date.

Giants not just large anymore — they also make great statements. My favourite giant hosta varieties for curb appeal are Liberty and Montana Aureomsarginata. They are great if you have less room in your garden, as they are more vase-shaped than mounding so you can under plant closely together.

Giant hosta varieties (clockwise from top left): Komodo Dragon, Empress Wu, Wu-La-La, and (for great curb appeal) Montana Aureomsarginata. (Photos: Garden Plus)
Giant hosta varieties (clockwise from top left): Komodo Dragon, Empress Wu, Wu-La-La, and (for great curb appeal) Montana Aureomsarginata. (Photos: Garden Plus)

There are something like 10,000 different hosta varieties, and I love mixing outer edges with contrasting solid colours.

Growing hosta is easy, but they do need a break from afternoon sun — so plant them in the north or east. If you have a structure or tree in another area giving them filtered light, this works as well.

Gardens Plus carries hundreds of hosta varieties, including recently introduced varieties such as Lakeside Paisley Print and Wu-La-La.  (Photo: Gardens Plus)
Gardens Plus carries hundreds of hosta varieties, including recently introduced varieties such as Lakeside Paisley Print and Wu-La-La. (Photo: Gardens Plus)

When planting hosta, this is the time to add compost to the hole. Rain once a week is key, so if there’s not much rain for the first season or two, give them a good deep drink here and there.

Although planting a whole garden of hosta is nice, your space would would be “blank” until they leaf out in the the warmer weather. So think about all the seasons.

Add some bulbs in the fall to come up first with lungwort, Brunnera, pasque flower, and natives like hepatica.

Coral bells will give you all-season foliage in so many different colours. Some of the newest varieties of coral bells are Wild Rose, Eye Spy, Mahogany Monster, Timeless Glow, and Spearmint with its red blooms.

Or make a bold statement with Ligularia “Little Rocket” and its long spikes of bright yellow flowers.

Then add some ferns for texture. There are so many varieties to choose from, such as Godzilla — a new Japanese Painted Fern on steroids — or the glowing iridescent Ghost.

Fill out your garden with all-season foliage (clockwise from top left): Coral bells, Ligularia "Little Rocket", Godzilla Fern, and Ghost Fern. (Photos: Garden Plus)
Fill out your garden with all-season foliage (clockwise from top left): Coral bells, Ligularia “Little Rocket”, Godzilla Fern, and Ghost Fern. (Photos: Garden Plus)

Part shade is my favourite part of the garden to design and fill. Keep in mind as well that gardening in part shade has its rewards too: you can garden all season long, the temperature is better for us, there are fewer weeds, and there is less evaporation of moisture, all due to the lack of the sun.

The only problem with shade for me is the lack of it!

My collection of hosta is now over 600, and I add about 40 different ones each year. Hosta can create quite the tapestry of colour and textures — the combinations are endless.

Feel free to come for a tour, as my garden is open for viewing and other events.

 

Gardens Plus logo

Gardens Plus is located at 136 County Road 4 in Donwood, about two minutes east of Television Road and Parkhill Road. The display gardens are located in the front, and the greenhouse is in the back — just follow the signs.

The garden and greenhouse is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday (to 7 p.m. on Fridays) until the last Sunday in July (July 28th). July is a perfect time for a tour, with hundreds of daylilies peaking.

For more information on Gardens Plus, call 705-742-5918, email info@gardensplus.ca, or visit www.gardensplus.ca. You can also follow Gardens Plus on Facebook and Instagram.

 

This story was created in partnership with Gardens Plus.

Comments