Hosta of the Year

I  confess I’m not familiar with this year’s perennial of the year  Amsonia hubrichtii, commonly known as Arkansas Blue Star, but when I checked with the website www.perennialplant.org and saw the photo of this year’s winner, I was pleasantly surprised.

My mind instantly began to think of where I could plant this and how beautiful it would look planted in different combinations.

Every year the members of the Perennial Plant Association select four perennials from those nominated and cast votes to determine the winner.

The plants selected must possess the following attributes: be suitable for a wide range of climate types; low maintenance; easily propagated; and have multiple seasons of interest.

This zone 4, clump-forming North American native can be found along the woodland’s edge or river banks.

It performs best in average, well-drained soil but once established will tolerate drier conditions. Amsonia thrives in full sun to partial shade, so obviously it doesn’t appear to be very fussy.

This hardy perennial grows 90 cm tall and wide. In late spring to early summer, clusters of small, light blue, star-shaped flowers cover ferny foliage. But the thing that makes you want to have this plant is its amazing fall colour.

The foliage is a brilliant golden-yellow colour.  This would look stunning in combination with the showy flower heads of Karl Foerster Reed Grass and the scarlet foliage backdrop of Euonymus elata, the Burning Bush shrub.

Another perennial is recognized by the gardening industry and that is the Hosta of the Year.

This year’s winner is Praying Hands.   The narrow leaves grow upward in a vase-like fashion that resemble hands folded in prayer. It is a smaller hosta, growing to a height of 36 cm and a spread of 45 cm. This zone 3 perennial will grow best in well-drained organic soil in shade to part sun.

This smaller hosta is ideal for growing in a container. Its unique shape will make it a topic of conversation. The Praying Hands hosta is a beautiful plant to grow in a memorial garden to honor a special loved one.

Jean Atkinson is a horticulturist with Richbar Golf and Garden and a regular Observer columnist.