Making More Plants
The title of this book -- Making More Plants: The Science, Art, and Joy of Propagation, by Ken Druse (Clarkson N. Potter, 2000; $35) -- says it all, and the book delivers it all. Whether you want to learn about propagation by seed, cutting, layering, grafting, or division, the clear, detailed instructions and step-by-step photos will get you working in no time. Ken Druse, gardener and photographer extraordinaire, provides plenty of preparation tips including information on seed collecting and storing and a quick botany lesson before starting in on the detailed propagation instructions. And Druse doesn't leave you guessing about how to propagate the plants you want; an extensive appendix fills you in on the best methods for specific plants by listing them alphabetically. Making More Plants is an incredibly useful book, both as a quick reference and as a gardening textbook for learning more complex techniques.
Favorite or New Plant
'Great Expectations' Hosta
Few plants light up the shade more than variegated hostas, but they do have a drawback. On many cultivars, the variegation's bright color can become muddy or fade to green by midsummer. One hosta cultivar that lives up to the promise of its coloration is 'Great Expectations'.
'Great Expectations' is comparatively slow growing, but reaches 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide once it matures, in about 5 years. Its leaves are thick and puckered, giving the plant substantial presence even when young. But its best quality is the extraordinary butter yellow color of its leaf heart, which does not fade from the time they unfurl until they're nipped by frost.
This hosta's flower color is another plus. Many hostas with yellow leaf variegation produce lavender flowers. 'Great Expectations' produces tall scapes of white flowers in late June and July.
'Great Expectations' is happiest in moist but well drained soil that is slightly acidic. It will grow in heavy soil but it takes longer to become established. Like most hostas, 'Great Expectations' thrives in light shade. It does best if exposed to direct sunlight only during the early morning hours.