Once summer hits its stride, it is great to have a couple of “workhorse” plants in your garden. These are plants that don’t wilt if we hit a dry spell and provide much needed color and texture; flowers are a bonus. Hostas have been planted far and wide and it’s easy to see why. They tolerate shade, rarely get stressed and provide a bloom spike, often when it is needed most.
A great native alternative to the hosta, is hairy alum root (Heuchera villosa ‘autumn bride’), above on the right and below. It tolerates dry shade wonderfully and provides a lovely white spire flower in late July that will often persist through late summer. In many spots, the foliage will stay green through the coldest months. It’s a stellar performer and provides greater habitat value.
Another great alternative is Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichiodes) below. It is 2 feet or so when full grown; provides textural year-round interest and unfurling fiddleheads in spring. It also sways in the summer breeze, something hostas don’t usually do.
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