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why must all the plants I never liked the looks of, turn out to be edible???  RSS feed

 
master steward
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As a child/teenager, I never liked my mom's hostas, fushias or hens and chicks (seedums). They just never matched the rest of the plants native to our area, and so "clashed" in my mind. And now I find out they're all edible! ...and now I kind of want them. But, I feel like such a hypocrite for now wanting them.  And, I still don't like their appearance. But, but, they're edible! And they're even edible perennials! I mean, I gotta grow all the edible perennials I can get my hands on...but I don't like these! I feel so conflicted!
 
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Are there any cats or dogs living with you? Hostas are presumably poisonous for them, so that could get you off the hook for at least one of the plants you mentioned :)
 
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But Nicole, Hostas also grow well in the shade under your trees and help block weed growth, so that might put you back on the hook.....hehehe.  

Only being mean like that because I can't wait for my Hostas to be ready for harvest.  They are a great cooking green.  Maybe the non-variegated ones would be less offensive to the eye?
 
Greg Martin
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Does this look ok for some ground cover filler perhaps on the shady edge of a forest garden path?
 
Greg Martin
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I admit to liking a splash of "fire" too.
 
Greg Martin
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I think when you start eating them they become more attractive :)
 
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Greg, those hostas are beautiful...I grew a variegated one back before I knew they were edible...the deer knew though and wiped them out.
I like how those are growing in 'puddles' of plants rather than the constrained rows we see often in landscaping.

Nicole, that's interesting about hens and chicks...they have always been a favorite of mine.  I've had them off and on down here and will probably beg some from those I've given them to over the years as mine didn't make the move with us.   I think there are many varieties? This is the one I have had...I bet your children would like them

s-l1000.jpg
[Thumbnail for s-l1000.jpg]
 
Greg Martin
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Judith, I really like the looks of those for a mock desert theme garden I'm starting to imagine.  I'm thinking they'd look nice with some Yucca and hardy cacti in a sandy bed.  I'm not sure what I want for shrubs yet here in zone 5 Maine.
 
Greg Martin
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Nicole, other than as a mass planting for ground covers, check out the non-variegated Hosta at the bottom left.  Doesn't that look nice as a forest denizen along with that fern tree.  I'd replace the fern tree with an ostrich fern, of course (yum...fiddle heads).
 
Greg Martin
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Forms and colors can look fairly "not a Hosta" as with this pointy leafed red stemmed Hosta, 'Red October':

(Am I making any headway with you?)  
 
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I've never grown hostas myself but those pictures make them look wonderful!

I have to second Judith on loving hens and chicks. Especially with kids. The juicy insides have medicinal properties similar to aloe! It's great for the cuts and scrapes kids are always getting and they love being able to gather and apply it themselves.

Also, another name for them is houseleeks. (Yes, spelled like the vegetable leeks.) That's because they were traditionally used in leaky places in thatched roofs to block up the leak! I just love that thought for some reason.

I hear that fuchsia fruit tastes like grapes! Maybe the taste might help....? Though I do understand the plant associations we have.

My grandma always over wintered her fuschias and geraniums in a tiny greenhouse on the south side of her house. Fuschias and geraniums make me think of her.

Oddly, lots of people I knew seemed to grow fuschias as annual hanging baskets every year (I even did once or twice and didn't know they were edible, or could be perennial - especially in your region! - back then), but not many seemed interested in geraniums. So geraniums started to equal grandmotherly in my mind.

Then, last year, someone here rescued geraniums from a dumpster and gave them to me. I grew them in my pots around the porch and....it felt weird. I'm getting to a grandmotherly age myself and each cheerful geranium flower bunch seemed to be shouting or calling that out even more. Hm. I did not try to overwinter them.

Grow what makes you happy. Some varieties might grow on you....others might not.

 
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I feel like this may be the equivalent of the ugly person with an amazing personality; I start to forget they are ugly because they are incredible in other ways. The other side is true as well, there are plants that I think are gorgeous but are utterly horrible when it comes to personality. I get to know them and they aren't pretty to me any more.
 
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Jocelyn,
Thank you for giving us the houseleeks name.  I was trying to buy them on ebay without luck for a good seller.  With using houseleeks I found one with seeds tested for germination.

Where we used to live one family had hostas for their yard instead of grass.  It was fitting as it was a forest like setting.
 
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Wikipedia "The name "houseleek" is believed to stem from the traditional practice of growing the plants on the roofs of houses to ward off fire and lightning strikes"[Welsh].

Though I note that 'leek' in its oldest usage means 'a garden herb' or what we would call a vegetable.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Greg, how did you know which varieties I ended up choosing?! My mom has at least 20 different varieties. About a year and a half ago, I wandered through her garden and picked out the one's I liked best, and she divided off some of them for me!  The clincher for me was watching the Permaculture Orchardist talk about hostas and how they are edible and smother weeds. Since I have ducks to eat the slugs, I don't have to worry about that predation, and so resigned myself to getting some hostas--ones that look a whole lot like the ones you posted pictures of!

I also got a fushia plant for my son 2 years ago, because he liked the bright red flowers, and it is edible. Now I guess I need to see if my mom can divide off any of the "house leeks"/hens&chicks and find somewhere to plant them that won't drive me nuts.

The fushias/houseleeks/hostas just look so....tropical. And seem about as incongruous to me as a palm tree in Seattle. I like having a native/natural looking garden--I always have. But, with climate change and everything, having a diversity of plants is a good thing. I think I just need to be okay with my plant choices changing as I grow older.

I feel a bit better about changing my mind, too, because years and years and years ago, my mom told me how she had vowed to never have rhododendrons in her garden, because she didn't like the pink ones her mom grew. But then she discovered purple and variegated and red and all sorts of other colored rhodis that she liked. Now has probably 30+ varieties filling her property. If she can change her mind without guilt, I guess I can, too!
 
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Hens and chicks work really well as a rock garden plant, especially if you create a "secret" garden (or as I like to call them, thinking spots) for a bit of solitude.
Hostas go well with forested spaces since they actually grow wild in that type of setting.

I have always loved fushias but our climate is not what they want except in the early spring, summer kills them off.

The "houseleeks" gained favor since they would grow in thatched roofs but not let water through to the interior. (at least that is what I've been told by English folks that live in thatched roof houses)
Which is the exact opposite of what I would think of any plant called "houseleek", my mind says fine, those cause the house to leak.

 
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