Only one plant, but oh-so-many styles. Horticulturists have had a heyday with hostas, and the result is almost endless varieties available. These shade-loving plants give your foliage garden a lush look and combine easily in plantings with other species -- be they flower or foliage -- and also make a lovely solo display. Plant them in careful patterns or in a more freeflowing style; these perennials will return for the season year after year. Gather ideas for your yard as you examine these garden photos and hosta garden ideas.
Two very different hosta cultivars -- one with narrow, variegated leaves showing undulated margins and the other with large, pleated, blue-green leaves in classic "plantain lily" style -- demonstrate the different effects breeders have achieved with these plants. The contrast between the two makes a wonderful foliage garden combination and acts as a foil for the rhododendron and evergreen behind. These hostas are not in bloom, but most varieties also bear attractive, often sweetly fragrant lily-shaped flowers in shades of white and lavender during summertime.
Their almost infinite variability of leaf color, texture, size, and form means that hostas can carry a planting scheme all by themselves; all sorts of them will combine well with each other. Some varieties make ever-larger foliage rosettes with age, while others spread to form new clumps. At right, Saxifraga stolonifera and Begonia grandis add further to the foliage display.
Hostas give a lot of options, but nothing can match the elegance and endless varieties of ferns available. Click to the next page for a look at some fine and feathery fern gardens.
If you think foliage is fabulous, wait until you see what else you can do with your backyard garden: