Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plant Profile: Hosta 'Wheee!' PPAF

A hosta that is new on the market in 2011/12 is Hosta 'Wheee!' PPAF. This medium-sized, entertainingly named, hosta has all of the traditional attractive qualities of hostas. It is shading-loving, mounded in habit, and has bright green leaves with a variegated edges. So what sets this apart from others? The real treat is the undulating, or wavy, variegated leaf margins.

A wee little Hosta 'Wheee!'

This plant is being brought to us by hybridizer Bill Meyer, Proven Winners®, and Walters Gardens, Inc. It has been mentioned in numerous publications and has already found its way to the Top 100 Best New Home Products list in This Old House (November/December) magazine. You'll most likely be finding this plant in your local garden center soon. 

I was given 3 small specimens at the Garden Writer's Association 2011 Annual Symposium from Proven Winners this past fall. Admittedly, this is not my best photography, and these plants had quite a rough trip as the leaves were smashed in the car a bit, but it was the end of the season and next Spring will be the real view. It will all add up and speak to this plant's long-term durability.

As young specimens these hostas seriously are cheerful. They definitely stand out from other plants around them even as small specimens. Hosta 'Wheee!' is hardy in my zone 5b garden, and has been checked for being hardy into zone three. If you like clean lines, this plant may be too busy for your liking. But, if you're like me, you will probably find that you really like the texture change of this plant against larger smooth-leaved hosta cousins.

Other Wavy-margined Hostas
If you like the wavy margined hostas, here is a list of plants I think are comparable to Hosta 'Wheee!': Hosta 'Seducer' PPAF, H. 'Irish Luck', H. 'Surfer Girl', H. 'Candy Dish', H. 'Fruit Punch', H. 'Big John', and H. 'Gone With The Wind'. There are dozens of others available with a quick search. If you are looking for these at your local garden centers, you may need to look a bit harder. Online purchases may be your best resource.

Enough about Wheee! now about me!
I'm interested in small and miniature hostas. I have a small collection of miniature hostas in my garden and am always looking for good contenders. Recommendations always welcome. A hosta that I am interested in that is different from this group is Hosta 'Autumn Frost' PPAF. I think this plant would pop from a distance, and that is critical in my deep shade garden. It certainly is an eye catcher in photos.

For reference, Hostas are categorized by their overall height (not including flowers).
Mini: > 6 inches tall
Small: 6-10 inches tall
Medium: 11-18 inches tall
Large: 19-27 inches tall
Giant: < 28 inches tall

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Gerbera Daisy

I bought these beautiful flowers at a local grocery store. Cut them, put them into a tulip vase (narrow-mouthed vase) and voilĂ --instant gorgeous. The grower was Bayview Flowers in Jordan Station, Canada.  Beyond that, I think the cultivar is Gerbera grootbloemig 'Souvenir'. Correct me if I'm wrong, because I would love to get my hands on more of them.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Tree Adventure at Arbor Day Farm

My extended family is fantastic at keeping secrets. They have lived in Nebraska City, NE since the 1870s. Since that time, there have been a multitude of events that could cause hushed conversations at family gatherings.

Since I've been going to Nebraska City, no one had shared information with me about the Arbor Day Farm, which is part of the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum, until about 8 years ago. My husband and I decided to take a peek at the farm when we stayed at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center while visiting family.

We headed out to the Tree Adventure. It was just a short walk from the lodge. It boasts an educational walk amongst the trees. It offers so much more. My husband and I enjoyed our time there so much, that this year during the Thanksgiving break, even in the cold, I wanted to make sure and take my four-year-old son on the short walking tour to introduce him to some of my favorite things in life, trees.

My husband could not make the trip, but Grandpa stepped in to join us. Grandpa had never known about the Arbor Day Farm either (despite the get away car breaking down within an eighth of mile of the entrance when he and my mom were eloping.) The Arbor Day Farm was the original estate of J. Sterling Morton. The farm is approximately 260 acres in size. The educational sections just inside the entrance include an animal footprint path, the Nut Tree Arboretum, nature focused classrooms, and the Canopy Tree House, a 50ft high tree house overlooking the forest canopy.

My father and son enjoyed walking from trees to educational signs, to footprints on the path, climbing the tree house, and playing with the interactive displays. This adventure is well thought out, well taken care of, and thoroughly exhausting for both the young and old.  Translation: if you need to 'encourage' nap time near Nebraska City, you couldn't do much better than Arbor Lodge and the Arbor Day Farm.

The Tree Adventure is just a small part of the entire Farm. Some of the things you can see include a large orchard, windbreak demonstrations, stream bed stabilization, a parking lot runoff filtration system, and a long nature walk.

One of the best kept secrets here is found in the Preservation Orchard. It features 180 antique apple trees representing 165 different apple varieties! They use this orchard as a genetic collection of some of the finest known and best tasting apples of very old varieties. Many of the varieties are no longer available commercially.

I think this is a fabulous visit for people of any age or ability.

So that's one of my family's little secrets exposed.  You'll have to be an insider to hear the others.

Learn more about:
Arbor Lodge State Historical Park
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum
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