A huge number of hostas is introduced every year in North America and, while some never make it across to this side of the Atlantic, of those that do many are introduced to us for the first time by Bali-Hai Nursery in Northern Ireland. In the current RHS PlantFinder they have, by my count, 126 new hostas which no one else is listing and the majority come from across the pond where hosta breeding is thriving. These four especially caught my attention.
‘Abiqua Delight', like all those in the rather varied Abiqua Series, was developed in Oregon by breeders Charles Purtyman and Jay Hyslop. Reaching about 60cm/2ft wide and 30cm/1ft high, the shining green foliage is edged in yellow at first, then fading to white. The flowers, which open in August, are a medium lavender shade.
‘Chariots of Fire' features a delightful, subtle variegation. The broad, pale green foliage is edged in creamy white on clumps reaching 90cm/36in wide and 45cm/18in high with red stemmed purple flowers from late August. Raised by Alex Malloy from Connecticut, well known as an expert on rare coins as well as a hosta breeder, it's derived from ‘Beatrice', ‘Garnet Prince' and H. pycnophylla (none well known in Britain).
‘Cloudburst' is a bold new seedling from Ohio and features thick, rounded, well puckered, relatively slug-resistant, blue green foliage on clumps 40cm/16in high and 80cm/33in wide. As the season progresses the foliage becomes green and eventually develops a rich dark green shine at about the same time that the pale purple flowers open.
Finally, there've been a number of red-stemmed hostas introduced recently - ‘Fire and Ice' springs to mind - but this one looks superb. And it's so new that although Bali-Hai have it on their website it's too new to be in the current RHS PlantFinder. ‘Cherry Tart', from Alttara Scheer a new breeder from New York, emerges in bright chartreuse, the foliage soon becomes bright yellow and it's held relatively upright so as the leaf stems stretch their brilliant red stems are shown off. Ideal at the front of a shady raised bed