Ok, I will admit it, I am a snob, a plant snob that is! Some plants I find just too common and boring. For example, “Look at that beautiful hosta!” said no one ever. Or spirea either for that matter, unless you are talking one of the bridal wreath variety, then you may just hear or think that, but only if it is pruned correctly.
So, if that makes me a plant snob, then so be it. I appear to have developed an aversion to hostas, probably because people have overused them in their gardens. The only time I enjoy them is in the very early spring when their green spikes are one of the first signs of new growth to emerge from the soil as it thaws out here in the Ottawa area. In the summer they get eaten by slugs and earwigs, and in the fall they turn mushy and slimy…
So, what perennials do I prefer over hostas for the edges of my gardens in my GARDENS4U and home gardens? Here are my choices:
For shady areas I like perennial geraniums. They are one of the first perennials to green up in the spring, require no maintenance what so ever, and maintain their neat, non-sprawling (most varieties) mounded shape. They do spread throughout the garden, but are very shallow rooted, so easy to remove. These geraniums are great for planting under trees, even evergreen trees where nothing else will thrive.
Another good choice for an edging plant in shady areas is lamium. It is one of my favourites with its variegated leaves, reblooming pale flowers, and tidy habit.
For part shade to part sun locations in the garden, I am loving heucheras these days. Some varieties tolerate more sun than others, so be sure to read the tags. By the way, heuchera is pronounced with a hard c. I will never forget that after I was chastised for mispronouncing it by a 93-year-old client. Heucheras come in a variety of colors from palest green to bright chartreuse to orangy-brown to reddish brown to deep wine red. Leaf shapes vary too from smooth and rounded, to almost maple-leaf-like, to curly, lettuce-leaf-like. They look good all summer, need no fall cleanup or protection, and survive our cold winters with no problem. A simple tug to remove any crispy leaves in the spring and they are good to go.
My first choice for full sun edging plants are those in the sedum or stonecrop families. As succulents, sedums and stonecrops are all drought tolerant, thriving in hot, dry areas, especially next to stone walkways where not much else will grow. They too come in a variety of colors and shapes. These sedums and stonecrops look especially nice when several varieties are planted together.
So, next season think outside of your comfort zone. Become a plant snob by replacing those boring hostas with a little more pizazz!