The Suffolk National Collection Holders meeting was held last week at one of the country’s largest collection of Hostas, near Stowmarket.
Local collections news included a Trial of Campanula ‘Prichard’s Variety’ by NCH Sue Wooster and interesting developments on Sarah Cook’s collection of Cedric Morris Irises. We were treated to an impressive diversity of cakes, and enjoyed the clove scent of Jim Marshall’s Perpetual Carnations:
As everyone was busy eating brownies in the marquee, I slipped out to the gardens. The National Collection, which contains over 2000 cultivars, is held separately from the sales plants, in three large shade houses.
As plants are all grown in pots, they are sorted by accession number and size (from “Mini” up to “Giant”). If someone asks for a specific cultivar, this makes it easier to find.
There are over 5000 Hosta cultivars recognised to date by the American Hosta Society (the official registrar). Many new plants introduced to the trade by breeders are very close to existing cultivars, which can make identification difficult, even for specialists.
Mickfield Hostas have established a practical guide to help customers choose a cultivar depending on leaf colour, size and variegation, see here: Finding a specific combination of characteristics.
Here are a few of my favourites, from the unusually shaped ‘Praying Hands’ to the showy, large-leaved ‘Ufo’:
The nursery and the National Collection can be viewed daily from April to September. But if you don’t live in Suffolk, you can also see part of the collection at shows around the country (check the Shows calendar on their website).