Plant Collector: Jade Cascade

Meet ‘Jade Cascade’. It has an appealing name though, to be honest, there is nothing jade about it. It really is a plain, somewhat dull green though it has attractive long ribs running the length of the leaf. It does at least cascade, or maybe it fountains, from its central point. And it is simply a terrific and eye-catching performer in the garden.

When we used to grow hostas commercially, we had maybe 40 different varieties in production. ‘Jade Cascade’ was over-shadowed by the showier members of its family and it did not sell well. Most customers did not want to buy a plain green hosta. No, they wanted the big, showy, variegated ones and the new releases. I would counsel that it is the plainer hostas that show the fancy ones off to better advantage and that planting a whole mass of striking variegated ones looks a mishmash. My wisdom was not totally ignored – customers would buy the solid coloured gold or blue ones but green varieties? Rarely.

When we went out of production, I planted many of them out in the garden and that is a very interesting exercise. Some, like ‘Jade Cascade’, have romped away and gone from strength to strength. But not that many. Of the newer varieties we had in the nursery, many have just quietly languished, doing very little. The greatest disappointment of all was ‘Great Expectations’. Aptly named, Mark says. We had great expectations of this showy, variegated variety though we had decided it was too slow to be commercially viable for us, even in optimal nursery conditions. It became Unfulfilled Expectations before transitioning to Disappointed Acceptance. Despite being given optimal conditions (well cultivated soil, plenty of compost and humus, little direct competition, summer moisture and semi shade), the plants have languished. They are still there after many years but have failed to do anything of note, let alone increase and thrive.

Pot culture in nursery conditions is one thing. Hostas are a really easy nursery crop to get looking large, lush and enticing given the controlled conditions of a production nursery. We came to the conclusion that in the quest for the new and the novelty, hosta sports were being separated off and trialled but only in nursery conditions. Garden performance is very different. We have seen the same thing with hellebores and have even bought some which looked simply terrific in the garden centre but failed to replicate that performance once put into garden conditions. Consumers can’t generally tell whether the plants they are looking at in a garden centre have been rigorously trialled so it becomes a case of win some, lose some. Were we ever to go back into business, I think I would sort out a range of tried and true performers.

‘Jade Cascade’ would earn a place close to the top of such a list. Plain green it may be, but it has a most graceful form, good slug and snail resistance and a robust disposition. In its quiet little way, I find it draws my eye every time I walk past the area where it is growing. That is a good plant.

Jade Cascade now occupies a similar amount of garden space to the established vireya rhododendron behind it

5 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Jade Cascade

  1. tonytomeo

    Some citrus varieties have been around for centuries, without getting replaced by newer cultivars. So have some of the rhododendron cultivars. Also, some of my favorites happen to be the least marketable.

  2. Philippa Foes-Lamb

    Glorious!!! Oh my goodness how I adore hostas (well almost everything as you know!). This one is truly beautiful, delicate yet robust at the same time. I agree with you re some things performing well in nursery conditions but not in the ground. I try really hard to ensure all of the perennials I sell are good performers and I grow none of them in my tunnel house, just outdoors in normal conditions. I do raise my seed in the tunnel house in winter but from now until mid-Autumn all of my seed trays are outdoors. I only have about 4 different hostas and yes I want oodles more so that is something I must deal to! I have ducks that keep the slugs and snails under control which is wonderful. Smiles..

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Ah, Philippa – how plants are grown for sale is a whole new minefield and one that becomes even more important at this time of year when the sun is getting some real heat to it. Plants should be hardened off before sale if not grown in the open as yours are. Otherwise they may well burn and fry when put out into the garden. My point was a few steps back from that – in the initial selection of new cultivars. Mark has never forgotten his shock many years ago when he went to visit a camellia breeder who only ever grew his plants in pots in nursery conditions – where they looked terrific – and he selected from those. Put them in the garden and the performance can be very different indeed and some of his cultivars should never have been named, in Mark’s opinion at least. That is what we think we have seen in new releases of hostas and hellebores in particular but it is probably more common than we think across a whole a range of different plants.

  3. Pingback: Tikorangi Notes: Things that go crash in the night, recommended hostas and our pretty meadow | Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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