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GardenSMART Episode

Show #31/5705. Sebright Gardens - Shade Plants

Summary of Show

Background Or History On Hostas
Eric meets Thomas and thanks him for joining us on GardenSMART. Welcome to the show. Thomas this garden is beautiful. There are way more selections here than we could ever talk about in one show, so today we're going to focus on shade plants. Let's start with one of the most ubiquitous of all shade plants. We see it in pretty much every good shade garden and that's the hosta. Eric asks Thomas to provide a little BACKGROUND OR HISTORY ON HOSTAS. Hostas have been around for a long time obviously, but they've really gained in popularity in the last 20 years or so. They're native to Japan, Korea and parts of China and are wonderful shade plants.
For More Information Click here

Diverse Genus
It's a very, very DIVERSE GENUS. And interesting because one can do a whole shade garden with just hostas and it looks like you've got more than just one genus of plants because there are so many different shapes and sizes. They can range from the little miniatures that one can use in rock gardens and troughs that are only 4" tall, or they could get up to nearly 3-1/2' tall or 6' across for some of the big giant hostas with dinner plate size leaves. And they are incredible. So there's lots of variation and lots of different textures.
For More Information Click here

Hosta Bloom
It is a deciduous plant, but it has an incredibly long season. Eric thinks one thing that's very underrated with hostas are the BLOOMS. They bloom very nicely and they're absolutely hummingbird magnets. And they bloom for a long period of time. Some of them look very, very spectacular in flower and some not so much. But if you don't like the hosta bloom you can cut it off, it doesn't hurt the plant.
For More Information Click here

Hostas Change Throughout The Season
And hostas are fun to watch grow. From the time they come up in the spring until the time they're fully leafed out their color CHANGES THROUGHOUT THE SEASON. All of this helps explains why hostas have been so successful as a garden plant. Hostas can be utilized as a filler plant or something more spectacular, a focal plant. Thomas points out a great example of a focal point plant, a hosta in a container. Really good looking. Hostas provide so much flexibility, so much diversity. They're a long-lasting plant, can live for 10, 15 years without having to be divided.
For More Information Click here

Hosta Workhorses In The Garden
Eric notes that Thomas has been growing hostas for a long time, after all those years he's most likely seen many of those mainstay, wonderful hostas, that are just the WORKHORSE OF THE GARDEN that will be successful in most settings. Let's talk a little bit about those. There are definitely some that come to the top like 'June' for instance. It's been around for a long time and as common as it is Thomas still recommends it a lot because it is a beautiful hosta.
For More Information Click here

Texture And Color
Eric also likes some hostas because of their TEXTURE AND COLOR. 'Stilletto' is one, it almost looks like you're planting hosta grass. Really fine leaves. It's a really nice choice for the edge of a shade garden. Put it in a mass, and it looks like you've just planted a liriope or something like that because it's got that nice variegation, short little lance shaped leaves, it's really cute.
For More Information Click here

Unusual Hostas
Eric would like to talk about some of the really UNUSUAL HOSTAS, hostas if one were to walk into their local garden center, most likely wouldn't be able to find. These would be the hostas one will most likely need to find through a mail order company, or someone who specializes in more rare plants. What are some of Thomas' favorites? One that Thomas likes a lot is 'Color Festival.'
For More Information Click here

Hostas In Containers
Eric loves to use hostas in his garden which is all shade, and HOSTAS IN CONTAINERS work great. Hostas in containers allow us to show off parts of the hosta we may not ordinarily see. Eric has some taller containers that he puts 'Red October' in just so he can enjoy the red stems which one would most likely miss if planted in the ground and they work great in containers.
For More Information Click here

Fuchsia
Another wonderful group of perennials that Thomas has very well represented in his garden is the hardy FUCHSIA. Eric is always jealous when he sees a gardener with a beautiful collection of fuscias because in his garden, with high humidity, they don't tend to hold up. So it's always a treat when he's able to tour someone's garden and see these amazing selections.
For More Information Click here

Fuchsia Care - Plant Them Deep
There's a lot of breeding work going on in the world of fuchsias, thus a ton of different selections. What can Thomas tell us about the plant itself? In Oregon in order to make them root hardy, PLANT THEM DEEP. So think tomatoes. If you have a big long straggly tomato, you plant it six inches below the surface. Do the same thing with fuchsias to make them root hardy.
For More Information Click here

Fuchsia Favorites
There's so much diversity with fuchsias, over the years what are some of Thomas' FAVORITES, ones he particularly loves or that just do really, really well? One of Thomas' very favorite is Cricket', and he likes it for several reasons. One is the color, it's luscious, kind of orange and mauve, kind of a blendy thing. Spectacular. But also what's so nice about it is the growth habit. It kind of comes up and arches out, more of an open habit. It's very, very elegant looking and very showy.
For More Information Click here

Fuchsia Maintenance
Eric would like to talk a little bit about MAINTENANCE on fuchsias. What do we need to know to be successful growing them? They're another very easy plant. Just plant them deep to start, they like to be kept moist, they don't like to dry out. So those are important considerations. Then when they're done flowering in the fall cut them back to ground level like you would any other perennial and they'll come back again.
For More Information Click here

Hellebores, Ferns And Epimedium
And of course we can't talk about shade without talking about HELLEBORES. They have such a long season of bloom in the Pacific northwest they start flowering in late January, early February and they'll bloom until May. Solomon's Seal, if you have dry shade is a great shade plant. And there is a huge selection of ferns available. One must have ferns in your garden if you've got shade.
For More Information Click here

Tips For Shade Plant Care
Eric says he wants his garden to look like Thomas'. Heck everybody does, this is an amazing garden. We've bought all these amazing shade plants, and we're launching into our garden. Eric would like for Thomas to talk about some TIPS our viewers might use to help them maximize their success as a shade gardener. First of all make sure you're buying a shade plant if you're doing shade gardening. Don't try to grow something that wants to be in the sun. Also be very aware of the lighting that you have, that's very important. Most shade plants want to have as much light as you can give them without direct hot afternoon sun.
For More Information Click here

LINKS:

Sebright Gardens
www.sebrightgardens.com

Mid-America Garden, LLC (Thomas' Mail Order Plants)
www.mid-americagarden.com

Oregon Garden Resort
A Rustic Hotel Retreat in Silverton, Oregon - Oregon Garden Resort

Plant List

Show #31/5705. Sebright Gardens - Shade Plants

Transcript of Show

In this Episode GardenSMART visits a hidden gem, a collector's garden paradise, and discuss new and exciting plants that are perfect for your garden. Sebright Gardens is located in Salem, Oregon in an area surrounded by beautiful pastoral agricultural land and a perfect place for a host of plants to thrive. The garden was initially started in 2003 as a private garden that surrounded the house, over time it grew into a four-acre treasure trove of collector plants that draw plant enthusiasts from far and wide.

Thomas Johnson is the co-owner of Sebright Gardens and provides an inside look at the operation. Thomas was raised on a farm in Canada and has always been passionate about plants. He started gardening at the age of four with help from his mother, and in time began selling plants in order to purchase more. Thomas' love of plants grew into a career in the hosta, iris and daylily mail-order business, as well as a comprehensive website where plant lovers from all over can explore new and exciting plants.

Eric meets Thomas and thanks him for joining us on GardenSMART. Welcome to the show. Thomas this garden is beautiful. There are way more selections here than we could ever talk about in one show, so today we're going to focus on shade plants. Let's start with one of the most ubiquitous of all shade plants. We see it in pretty much every good shade garden and that's the hosta. Eric asks Thomas to provide a little BACKGROUND OR HISTORY ON HOSTAS. Hostas have been around for a long time obviously, but they've really gained in popularity in the last 20 years or so. They're native to Japan, Korea and parts of China and are wonderful shade plants. And they have so much diversity. Oftentimes when we walk into a garden center we may only see 10 or 12 different selections. They typically will have a blue leaf one, a variegated one and maybe some smaller ones. But Thomas has 1200 selections here. Eric would like for Thomas to walk us through what is possible in the world of hostas.

It's a very, very DIVERSE GENUS. And interesting because one can do a whole shade garden with just hostas and it looks like you've got more than just one genus of plants because there are so many different shapes and sizes. They can range from the little miniatures that one can use in rock gardens and troughs that are only 4" tall, or they could get up to nearly 3-1/2' tall or 6' across for some of the big giant hostas with dinner plate size leaves. And they are incredible. So there's lots of variation and lots of different textures. There are hostas with waffle-puckered leaves, seer suckered, there are uprights, mounders, there's lots of diversity. Same with color, there's so much more than hostas with just greenish-blue leaves. And almost every kind of variegation one can imagine. There are hostas with white edges and creamy edges there are blues with variegation, and there are greens with variegation. There's breeding being done now for hostas with leaves that have red stems. Some of the varieties have fragrant flowers, very sweetly scented, so that's a bonus. So lots of diversity.

It is a deciduous plant, but it has an incredibly long season. Eric thinks one thing that's very underrated with hostas are the BLOOMS. They bloom very nicely and they're absolutely hummingbird magnets. And they bloom for a long period of time. Some of them look very, very spectacular in flower and some not so much. But if you don't like the hosta bloom you can cut it off, it doesn't hurt the plant. But the hummingbirds absolutely adore them. One year when Thomas was taking the blooms off some of his hostas, the hummingbirds seemed to be actually cursing him so now he tends to leave them until they're finished blooming.

On some of the larger varieties Thomas finds the seedpod, oftentimes a pink tone, to be somewhat attractive and it provides some late season interest. And that's a real plus because the leaves are starting to fade a little bit at that time.

And hostas are fun to watch grow. From the time they come up in the spring until the time they're fully leafed out their color CHANGES THROUGHOUT THE SEASON. All of this helps explains why hostas have been so successful as a garden plant. Hostas can be utilized as a filler plant or something more spectacular, a focal plant. Thomas points out a great example of a focal point plant, a hosta in a container. Really good looking. Hostas provide so much flexibility, so much diversity. They're a long-lasting plant, can live for 10, 15 years without having to be divided. And they provide beauty all summer long which contrasts to many perennials which flower for two weeks and that's it. But hostas, have that beautiful mound of foliage, a gorgeous plant all summer. It's also an ideal plant for gardeners to share. They're easy to divide, and the ease of sharing may explain a large part of the proliferation of so many different cultivars. And they have an attraction because they look tropical. They look difficult to grow but they're quite the opposite, they're very easy to grow. Hostas are one of the easiest perennials there is to grow. And they're excellent for the shade when gardening in the summer, when it's hot, one can be in the shade.

Eric notes that Thomas has been growing hostas for a long time, after all those years he's most likely seen many of those mainstay, wonderful hostas, that are just the WORKHORSE OF THE GARDEN that will be successful in most settings. Let's talk a little bit about those. There are definitely some that come to the top like 'June' for instance. It's been around for a long time and as common as it is Thomas still recommends it a lot because it is a beautiful hosta. It has good sun tolerance, good slug resistance, easy to grow. Thomas recommends it for people that are just starting to grow hostas. It has really stark variegation, a bright white with some cream going into a darker green. And it gets brighter as the season goes on. It comes out with more blue in it then gets brighter and brighter as the season progresses. Big variegated ones like 'Paul's Glory' is a good choice. Another hosta that's been around for a long time but not as available anymore, is 'Inniswood', which is one of Thomas' very favorite hostas. It has nice green-on-green variegation with lots of quilted, puckered leaves, solid growth, a very nice hosta. One that Eric grows in his garden every year is 'Guacamole.' It is similar to 'Sum and Substance' both are kind of a chartreuse with a darker chartreuse variegation, really nice, big round leaves, it's a year-round winner too. And what's nice it has fragrant flowers as well. Hostas that have fragrant flowers are also more sun and heat tolerant. So the further south you go those are better choices than say some of the blues, the Tokudama, types.

Eric also likes some hostas because of their TEXTURE AND COLOR. 'Stilletto' is one, it almost looks like you're planting hosta grass. Really fine leaves. It's a really nice choice for the edge of a shade garden. Put it in a mass, and it looks like you've just planted a liriope or something like that because it's got that nice variegation, short little lance shaped leaves, it's really cute. Eric would put 'Blue Mouse Ears' into a similar category. It's one of those little miniature hostas so it works well in planters, or on the edge of a perennial border. It has really, really thick leaves which means very good slug resistance. It's one of the few that's got a bigger flower and it blooms just above the foliage and looks absolutely darling in flower. Thomas loves it too.

Eric would like to talk about some of the really UNUSUAL HOSTAS, hostas if one were to walk into their local garden center, most likely wouldn't be able to find. These would be the hostas one will most likely need to find through a mail order company, or someone who specializes in more rare plants. What are some of Thomas' favorites? One that Thomas likes a lot is 'Color Festival.' It has really nice yellow center, a wide green edge. It is spectacular. Everybody that comes here says, "I want that." It's just really gorgeous. Another would be 'Hudson Bay', which gets a little bit bigger and has a yellow center, it has a nice puckered waffled texture to it. It's a beautiful hosta. It will grow to about 2-1/2' tall and maybe about 3' wide. Really nice big leaves. If you like golds 'Lakeside Cha Cha' is a very nice hosta, it has a really nice ruffled edge. Then there's 'Dancing Queen' we're starting to find that a little bit more in garden centers, it's another really beautiful gold hosta. In the spring, it has a really ruffled edge to it. So there are quite a few different choices, Thomas could go on and on, there are so many different varieties, we could talk about them all day.

Eric loves to use hostas in his garden which is all shade, and HOSTAS IN CONTAINERS work great. Hostas in containers allow us to show off parts of the hosta we may not ordinarily see. Eric has some taller containers that he puts 'Red October' in just so he can enjoy the red stems which one would most likely miss if planted in the ground and they work great in containers. Eric believes that most people struggle with a tree when its roots get aggressive because when you water your hostas, the tree roots obviously start to come in to get that moisture as well, so it becomes more of a root mass. So, containers are fantastic, put them on top of the ground and plant your hostas, they're totally hardy to -40 below in that container so you don't need to worry about them freezing out. And they look great in containers. Use a decorative pot add hostas, then put crocus over the top, they bloom in the spring before the hostas come up. And, a lot of hosta varieties grow into big mounds that will completely cover the pot, so you don't even know the pot's there.

Eric finds in many parts of the country where the soils are really heavy and compact, like a heavier red clay soil, hostas are not as happy. So putting them into a container with more of a garden mix will allow them to perform better. And not just for tree root situations. Many people want to grow hostas but have no place to grow them. Hostas can grow on a patio or if you have an apartment grow them on the deck. Hostas look great in containers all year long. You can move them to wherever you want them. So hostas are very good in containers.

Another wonderful group of perennials that Thomas has very well represented in his garden is the hardy FUCHSIA. Eric is always jealous when he sees a gardener with a beautiful collection of fuchsias because in his garden, with high humidity, they don't tend to hold up. So it's always a treat when he's able to tour someone's garden and see these amazing selections. Thomas agrees they are pretty lucky in the pacific northwest because the hardy fuchsias do very well. They start blooming usually in May and they flower right up until frost, sometimes it's November or December before they're done flowering. So they do get a lot of enjoyment out of them in this climate.

There's a lot of breeding work going on in the world of fuchsias, thus a ton of different selections. What can Thomas tell us about the plant itself? In Oregon in order to make them root hardy, PLANT THEM DEEP. So think tomatoes. If you have a big long straggly tomato, you plant it six inches below the surface. Do the same thing with fuchsias to make them root hardy. At the end of the season most years fuchsias will go to the ground. The tops are not always winter hardy, but they come back very quickly, they come up and bang they're in full flower. There are varieties that will routinely, in one season, grow to 3' or 4' tall and others that just stay small, no more than about 8" to 10" tall.

There's so much diversity with fuchsias, over the years what are some of Thomas' FAVORITES, ones he particularly loves or that just do really, really well? One of Thomas' very favorite is Cricket', and he likes it for several reasons. One is the color, it's luscious, kind of orange and mauve, kind of a blendy thing. Spectacular. But also what's so nice about it is the growth habit. It kind of comes up and arches out, more of an open habit. It's very, very elegant looking and very showy. Everybody that comes to the garden loves it. Another variety is called 'Genii,' it has yellow foliage, which is really cool because of the bright color, it has smaller flowers, but they're very cute and dainty. Eric comments that it is a super cool plant, walking through the garden from 20 feet away you can see that plant and it's vibrant. The foliage is definitely an added attraction on that plant, not just the flowers. Then there's 'Folsom,' it's gorgeous, kind of a pink calyx with a purple corolla. It's beautiful. There is nothing not to like about fuchsias, lots of bang for the buck. At least in the pacific northwest.

Eric would like to talk a little bit about MAINTENANCE on fuchsias. What do we need to know to be successful growing them? They're another very easy plant. Just plant them deep to start, they like to be kept moist, they don't like to dry out. So those are important considerations. Then when they're done flowering in the fall cut them back to ground level like you would any other perennial and they'll come back again. If a mild winter they may come out on the tips and then your plant will be that much bigger. They are very easy to grow, no real maintenance, no dead heading, the flowers come off. And no real nutritional needs outside of what Thomas will ordinarily do. Thomas doesn't actually feed anything in the landscape because he mulches with compost every year, which has that same effect. But they do respond well to any sort of fertilizer. It will increase their bloom and size.

Eric remembers his first foray into shade gardening. It was when he was quite young and began by messing around with some annuals, shrubs, et cetera. But as a garden progresses you run out of sunny spaces to grow and start feeling like there aren't that many plant options, that the plant palette is going to be limited. But when we really start expanding our plant horizons and explore what we can do with shade we realize there are thousands and thousands of really cool options for the shade. Of course coming and seeing a garden like this certainly helps in that eduction process. It does seem like none of us really start out shade gardening, instead we seem to always start out with sun gardening. And that is a natural thing to do. Then we feel kind of bummed as our garden transitions into shade when the trees and shrubs grow and cover and canopy the area. So then we start looking for shade plants and start discovering there's a huge selection of shade plants. What usually ends up happening is we fall in love with shade gardening more so than sun gardening because we can enjoy it in the summertime. When it's hot out, we can be gardening in the shade. And, there are so many options for shade plants. There's almost a lushness to shade plants, one can oftentimes feel they're in a tropical space. Thomas has some plants here that are almost exotic. Plants like trilliums, and the arisaemas really provide that sense of lushness. There's something that's cooling and comforting about them.

It's definitely difficult to talk about shade gardening without talking about trilliums. There are so many different species of trillium. And we're fortunate that almost all trillium species in the world are native to the United States. So we can grow trilliums very well.

And of course we can't talk about shade without talking about HELLEBORES. They have such a long season of bloom in the Pacific northwest they start flowering in late January, early February and they'll bloom until May. Solomon's Seal, if you have dry shade is a great shade plant. And there is a huge selection of ferns available. One must have ferns in your garden if you've got shade. We could talk about FERNS for hours. It's another category of shade perennials that just goes on and on. Another plant, EPIMEDIUM, is a great shade plant. And, Thomas has done quite a bit with it. He's really gotten heavily into epimediums. There are evergreen varieties and there are deciduous varieties. They're more tolerant of the dry shade, once they're established they're outstanding. It has gorgeous little flowers that look like little columbines. They come in all sizes, little short miniatures, to great big ones and they're a great choice for shade. The more time you spend inside of that category, the more you realize that you just don't have enough acres to plant all the amazing shade plants available. There really are so many choices, many more than one might realize.

Eric says he wants his garden to look like Thomas'. Heck everybody does, this is an amazing garden. We've bought all these amazing shade plants, and we're launching into our garden. Eric would like for Thomas to talk about some TIPS our viewers might use to help them maximize their success as a shade gardener. First of all make sure you're buying a shade plant if you're doing shade gardening. Don't try to grow something that wants to be in the sun. Also be very aware of the lighting that you have, that's very important. Most shade plants want to have as much light as you can give them without direct hot afternoon sun. That's highly important. Then keep in mind that your sun does change throughout the growing season. So it might be a good idea to set up an empty container out in a spot where you want to plant a shade garden and watch your sun move before you actually plant it. It may surprise you that it may be in more sun than you think. But siting is very important, and choosing a plant that's right for the location is probably the number one thing that you need to do first. Irrigation is also important. Oftentimes when we look at a shade garden we assume everything is more moist than it actually is. Think about what's creating the shade. The shade often is being created by these big trees that are sucking up an incredible amount of water. So just because it looks lush and shady under that tree doesn't mean that there's going to be adequate moisture, especially for things like hostas and ferns that that need a lot of water. You also need to be very aware of the fact that as you water in that area the tree roots are going to come towards that moisture as well. So be observant and make sure that those shade plants are actually getting enough water. That's probably the most common problem people have with shade plants. Make sure that the soil is evenly moist.

Eric remembers when starting off as a gardener he oftentimes wanted to work with really exotic, difficult to grow plants. We learn a lot through that. But one thing he recommends to people all the time is there are certain plants that are known to be awesome plants, they're really strong, they're almost bullies. We're not talking about invasives, rather plants that you can literally put them anywhere and you know they're going to thrive. That's a great place to start when choosing a plant and that goes back to Thomas' point - pick the right plant for the right place. Even inside of that category there are plants that are known to be plants that thrive almost anywhere. Plants like Hakonechloa grass, or Japanese forest grass can be planted in sun or shade. So you do not need to worry about whether there's going to be too much sun or too much shade.

Another thing to remember when shade gardening is you're trying to mimic a woodland environment. Anything you can do to make the soil really humus rich is good, so lots of compost will be helpful. Shade plants really love that sort of thing. So keep your soil loose and full of nutrients, and they'll thrive. Of course they need oxygen, that's where looser soils, adding in compost, doing wood mulch all the time keeps it really light. The fibrous roots of many of these plants, especially the ferns with really fibrous root systems, need all of that airspace in order to be successful. Thomas feels that wood mulch is the best. If you can get decomposed wood chips or stuff like that is the best. Or decomposed leaves is good, as opposed to bark dust that basically decomposes and doesn't add much to your soil.

In this Episode we've taken a look at a host of rare and unusual plants that are amazing. As well picked up some great tips on care and maintenance to make your garden perfect year-round. Eric thanks Thomas so much for joining us. Sebright Gardens is a beautiful, amazing place and we've learned so much. Thomas in turn thanks Eric and GardenSMART for visiting.

LINKS:

Sebright Gardens
www.sebrightgardens.com

Mid-America Garden, LLC (Thomas' Mail Order Plants)
www.mid-americagarden.com

Oregon Garden Resort
A Rustic Hotel Retreat in Silverton, Oregon - Oregon Garden Resort

Plant List

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