We all love hostas and heucheras, but there are a lot of other great plants out there too. Tom couldn’t resist a few of them.
This little beauty may sound more familiar as Hardy Ice Plant. We grow them as annuals here in our zone 4 climate, but they are considered perennials in zones 5-11. Although there are over 150 species, it’s mostly just D. cooperi that is available and used in gardens. The plant originates from the higher altitudes of southern Africa and does well in sun and shade. It naturally thrives from summer rainstorms, so although it has succulent leaves, don’t forget to water it. It has a low dense form, and I think its best use is as a groundcover or edger. In my garden I have a short rock wall and I would love to put some right up against the edge.
Side note, in some African cultures delosperma plants symbolize good luck and have been ground to a paste for warriors to wash themselves and their weapons with.
Every spring when I see the dianthus blooming in neighbors’ yards I wish I had a huge swatch of it growing. The color is beautiful and really packs a punch. I also like how the foliage has a neat, clean and compact form so the plant is respectable even when it’s not flowering. It should do well in zones 4-9 and needs at least some sun. The plant should be lusher and produce more flowers if it’s in a spot that’s not too hot or dry. It also likes slightly alkaline soil, so depending on your garden it may helpful to add a little lime.
I’ve started to notice helleborus in garden centers and magazines, and they generally seem to be popular in the plant world. So what’s the hype about? Most helleborus that we find commercially available are hybrids between stemless species. They are vigorous, easy to grow, and have a wide range of flower colors that bloom in late winter. They should stay evergreen in zone 6 and higher, but are still perennial to zone 4 with a little winter protection. They are pretty adaptable and do well in shade with just a little sun. As with many plants, they like well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Also, hellebores have deep roots, so try to give them a deep planting bed. The plants have long been cultivated for medicinal use, but the alkaloids can be toxic if ingested in large quantities.
We’re also selling many other Sun Companion Plants and Shade Companion Plants! More information to come!
The greenhouse is in full swing and the plants are growing nicely.
Hostas and Heucheras in the greenhouse
Hostas in the greenhouse
The leaves are young, fresh, and gorgeous!
Heuchera ‘Marvelous Marble’
Hosta ‘Twist of Lime’
Hosta ‘Maui Buttercups’
Heuchera ‘Frosted Violet’
What a difference a couple months makes! Click here to see the greenhouse photos I posted in March.
It may be no surprise to see potted hostas for sale at your local farmer’s market, early in the planting season, along with other garden favorites, but would you recognize the young shoots and leaves if they were bundled and hawked as fresh produce? Forget the side of asparagus or a lettuce salad, and say hello to hostas!
Hostas have long been used as a food source, and are most commonly consumed in Japan. Legend suggests that where H. montana grows like a weed in the northern mountain regions of Japan, locals took advantage of the easy nutritional value and eventually began cultivating the crop.
Hostas and prawns
Today, the plant is sold as Urui, and the shoots, leaves and flowers are all edible. The soft texture and mild, less bitter flavor of young shoots is preferred to older growth. It is best to harvest leaves in the morning, when they have the highest moisture content. They can be eaten raw or cooked (boiled) and I have seen descriptions of taste which include snow pea pods, asparagus, lettuce and spinach. Snipping the blooms may seem gruesome to some hosta fanatics, but the flowers are also edible and can be used to beautify your salad or featured as a cake decoration.
Although all species appear to be edible, H. montana and H. sieboldii are the most common vegetable favorites, while H. plantaginea is preferred for the sweet delicacy of flower consumption. An interesting aside, the Chinese frequently plant fields of H. plantaginea for honey production.
Recipes usually boil the stems or leaves, and then serve the vegetable in salad, dressed with sauce or paste, pickled, in sushi, or fried as tempura. I have yet to see hostas available in my local vegetable aisle, and therefore believe that the curious will have to make some sacrifices in their own garden! Just remember to avoid any plants that you have treated with systemic insecticide. Check the Plants for a Future website for more information on specific species: www.pfaf.org.
I haven’t tried it yet, but I found this recipe at http://www.giboshiarekore.com/recipe.html
Urui with Vinegar Mustard Miso Dressing
Hosta (H. montana or whatever hosta you’d like to try)
White miso (bean paste)
Sake (Japanese rice wine) or mirin (sweet cooking rice wine)
Vinegar (Kenya recommends rice vinegar)
- Prepare Hosta:
- Cut off fresh leaves of hosta (preferably H. montana) just above the crown. Wash them well, and cook in boiling water with a little salt for 1/2 minute to 1-1/2 minutes. Drain well in a colander. Cut the leaves into 1 to 2 inches.
- Prepare VMM Dressing:
- Place white miso and sugar (about 1 : 0.7) in a small sauce pan
- Add some sake or mirin just enough so it is easy to mix
- Cook over low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon
- It is done when it turns creamy
- Cool the miso mixture
- Add vinegar to thin the miso mixture and mix well with a whisk
- Prepare mustard if you use dry one; Luke-warm water makes the mustard spicier
- Add the mustard to your taste to the miso mixture, and mix more with a whisk
- Serve the cooked hosta with the dressing