Sunday, January 04, 2009

Things Change

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The first weekend of the new year is well under way. The wind has finally stopped and a little sun warms the January landscape. It's 22 degrees on the east side of the house where 17 blue jays, the largest collection this year, feed with greed on the platform feeder. They appear to be playing a game of who can stuff the most pieces of cracked corn in their crop at a time.

On the west side of the house the thermometer is holding at 12 degrees. Chickadees and white and red breasted nuthatches fly back and forth from the hanging feeder, eating some sunflower seeds and hiding others for later when the feeder is empty and the birdwatcher absent.

Days, months and years change. Some things are noticeable and others lead a camouflaged existence. For two days now I have worked on hosta pictures for our new website. It makes no sense to me why I have a hundred pictures of some hostas and not a single good picture of others. I just made a list and in the end of this website madness I hope to come away with a list of hostas I absolutely have to photograph this year. Sure wish I could find someone more diligent than I am. Photographic compatibility and interest within a family is apparently not the same as the compatibility alleged to be found using the on-line love match, E-Harmony. Oh well.......

One hosta I like is Fortunei Albopicta. I'm not certain there are many who admire it as I do but it has a place in my garden because spring in Vermont is very important to me. This hosta was first collected in Japan around 1860 but wasn't registered with the American Hosta Society until 1987. That means a lot of gardeners have had a chance to look at it over a long time.

Albopicta starts slowly, reaches incredible coloration and then fades into total greeness for the balance of the year. The last part is the part many people like the least. The picture up top shows it on the right with Abiqua Moonbeam on the left. The picture represents the time of greatest color change for the season.

When Albopicta breaks through the ground in the spring, fends off early frosts and first passes 5 inches in height, it looks frail and pale. This is an example (just above). But then as if a fairy wand gives it a couple-three twinkles of spice, it turns from toad to prince and really is an attention getter. I have always said that a hosta that would hold this color all year would be a great seller. Here are some examples. Click to enlarge.

In all too short a period of beauty, the display is over and Albopicta fades to all green. This gives reason for you to think where you place it in your garden so you benefit from the energetic mid spring color but can accept it for its summer-long dullness. It's size can be attractive but give it some thought. Here is a picture of Albopicta wearing its summer suit.

As new years begin, those who have made resolutions are put to a test. There's more revolution in me than resolution but I do hope that this year all gardeners can share themselves and their gardens with others who have yet to experience the peace there's not enough of in our world.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where Gail is moving my Santa collection, one by one, into their annual retirement while a new pot of chili bubbles on the stove.

Safe wishes to all!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm


joey said...

Delighted to know all is well, George. Love your hosta photos ... I'm a crazed hosta lover as you might remember. Happy New Year!

George Africa said...

Hi Joey;

Looking at hosta pictures on my blogs is easier on you than reading Village Voice recipes on your blog-- and then having to try them out--is on me. I haven't tried any dumplings for some time so here goes.

George in Vermont where snow-rain-snow-rain is falling.

Hostabuff, Zone 6a said...

Albopicta is one (of many) hosta I do not have and it does photograph beautifully. I can't get enough hosta photo's this time of year...

Wayne Stratz said...

Are there many hostas that do that change in color?

17 Blue Jays! wouldn't want to be a cat in that crowd.

jbranch said...

Just found your blog and I collect hosta. Don't have Albopicta - it is readily available here in Alabama. May have to get it this year. Thanks for the post.

George Africa said...

Hello Wayne; You question hostas that change color. Yes there are many that look very much different as they reach years 4-5-6. A favorite of mine in named June. I remember when I first purchased some they were a beautiful spring-early summer yellow but now years later they are corrugated and the emphasis is on the greens along the border. Still a very, very popular hosta.

Sometimes I buy a new hosta without knowing much about it and then I get a little disappointed. Jewel of the Nile has a habit of changing on its own and mine has never been as beautiful as it was at about age 3.

When I get a chance Wayne I want to write you about your school.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

Wayne Stratz said...

thanks for the info. I will try to store it way in a place my brain can find later. hope your healing goes well.