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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Hosta ‘Big John’: New from Bali-Hai Nursery

Posted by Graham Rice on 03 Nov 2009 at 12:35 PM

Every year new hostas arrive on the scene. You'd think that with so many being grown already - there've been almost two thousand listed in the RHS PlantFinder over the years - that we wouldn't need any more.

Hosta 'Big John' - the hosta with the largest leaf, new from Bali Hai Nursery. Image: ©Bali Hai NurseryWell, some perhaps we truly don't need. But as hosta enthusiasts bring together new combinations of size, leaf shape, colour and pattern - not to mention flowers - valuable new types are appearing.

Bali Hai Nursery in Northern Ireland make a point of bringing many new hostas to British gardeners. But they also bring over from the United States varieties which have somehow been ignored over here.

‘Big John' has been around in the States for some time (it was registered in 1986) but it's not been available here before. And it really is big. Mark Zilis, writing in his superb Hosta Handbook, says: "'Big John' is synonymous with "huge" in hostas. Not only does the mound of foliage become massive, but the individual leaves are the largest of any hosta, narrowly beating out ‘Sum and Substance' for that honor. The record breaking 21in x 163/8in (53.3x41.6cm) leaf was measured in 1988... Since then no leaf I have measured (probably more than 5,000) has exceeded those dimensions."

Setting aside what we'll charitably call the "dedication" of someone who measures over 5,000 leaves of just one variety of hosta - that really is an impressive plant.

‘Big John' reaches a massive 32in/81cm high by 6ft/1.8m wide! The leaves are bluish green at first, becoming dark green by early summer and have the puckered look of H. sieboldiana parentage; in fact ‘Big John' is a seedling of H. sieboldiana ‘Mira'. It also features bell-shaped white flowers striped in lavender which are held just about leaf level in summer.

If your garden is large enough to feature such an impressive plant, or you have a huge container, you can order Hosta ‘Big John' from Bali Hai Nursery.

Two more new hostas next time.



Rothschild Orchid said:

That's one big hosta. I like it! :o)

on 03 Nov 2009 at 05:17 PM

Graham Rice said:

I know! It's enormous. I have just the place for a hosta like that. But what to grow with it? A large, but non-invasive, grass perhaps.

on 03 Nov 2009 at 05:34 PM

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on 04 Nov 2009 at 03:38 PM