'Summer Serenade' and 'T-Dawg' hostas
Photo: Alison Rosa
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Showstopping Plants

In a garden design, hostas give a punch of color to a shady location and, planted in mass, can be a showstopper. Start by using mostly solid-green and solid-blue varieties and mixing in simply variegated hostas that repeat those colors. “Pairing the variegation on two-toned foliage to the shade of a solid-color hosta nearby gives a garden bed continuity,” says Minnesota-based landscape designer Pam Hartley. Keep variegated hostas distinct from one another by varying the width of their leaf margins. Repeat similar variegations within a bed, but allow the plants to stand on their own by using contrasting leaf shapes, sizes, or sheens.

Hartley likes to use the brighter gold and chartreuse hostas in groups so that their colors don't stick out or seem random in a mass planting. “And multiply the number of brighter or variegated minis planted among larger, muted colors to allow the eye to focus on them,” she suggests.

Shown: By repeating colors, you draw the eye through a garden. Here, the yellow and green of large-leaved 'Summer Serenade' (left) are echoed in smaller 'T-Dawg' opposite it.
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