Another advantage of Hosta is that they can survive Cape Cod’s sometimes wilting mid-summer temperatures without a lot of water, which means you do not need to do a lot of supplemental irrigation or watering. Hosta—like several varieties of fern such as my favorite, the silvery “Japanese Painted Fern”—can make it through an entire summer and fall without extra watering, surviving on the occasional day of rain or light watering with a hose now and then.
The silvery lacy foliage of the “Japanese Painted Fern” is a lovely addition to a bed of chartreuse, variegated, or blue Hosta; these ferns also do not need a lot of water and will look beautiful in shade beds for months on end. The ferns do take a while to get established and will not do well in full sun, but their delicate beauty and muted coloration provide a fine texture and hue to gardens.
“Japanese Painted Fern” can take a few years to reach their full size (about 18 inches to two feet), but once they are established they are one of the most elegant foliage choices available for perennial beds, or foundation plantings. Groupings of these Asian imports around your Rhododendron—especially when paired with a rainbow of Hosta foliages—create a distinctive yet low-maintenance look.
Evergreens—especially the smaller, or dwarf varieties of blue spruce, fir, and cypress—can brighten sunny perennial beds when the last bright flush of flowering plants disappears. Hinoki cypress can be purchased in dwarf varieties like Nana gracilis, their beautiful fan-shaped needles adding a whimsical texture to borders and foundation plantings. When planted adjacent to shady Hosta and fern beds with subtle blue leaves like the “Blue Angel,” the icy blue foliage of dwarf firs like the Glauca compacta creates a pleasing repetitive rhythm, giving a coordinated landscape design. The evergreens also look lovely in snowy winter gardens, their textures and colors a welcome reminder of summer and fall splendor to come.