White Feather Without Tree Peony


To begin, this is not White Feather. We like to be upfront with our dear readers. It is a primrose purchased from the big box store for pennies last year, out of bloom and very sad looking. The color is a surprise, and a very pleasant one. Enough of that. Onward to the meat of the story.


Here is Hosta ‘White Feather’ on April 3. This is a hosta that was given as a gift by offspring Semi several years ago, at least five, er maybe four. I don’t know. Anyway, the name comes from the newly emerging leaf spikes. After being gone for a week on spring break vacation, leaving in winter and returning to summer, this is what greeted us upon the return to Fairegarden.


Each day saw progress on the emergence, image taken April 4. Please ignore the uncut hellebore leaves, part of an experiment. Click to read about it here-Hellebore Experiment-The Results. Also, the exposed root of the Garnet Japanese maple that provides the shade for the trio of hostas, better illustrated in the previous image. The third clump is to the right, out of this shot.


Things are happening quite quickly with the high temps. By the next day, April 5, the leaves are stretching skyward.


Zooming out it can be seen that the maple is leafing out, trying to catch up with the hosta on its mission to photosynthesis. The rock wall has been rebuilt in front of the small tree and some touch up on the surrounding rock walls. Good compost was used to fill in space at the trunk and scotch moss added. I just hate to see bare dirt it seems. The golden creeping jenny will probably engulf the not true moss, but anywho…


Like time lapse photography, April 6 shows even more growth, and a little more greening along the veins. There has been heat and sunshine each day. The brightness is nearly blinding, difficult to capture but charming to the human eye.


Pulling way back shows the real view. The large trees just outside our property have not leafed out yet, but have begun that process. The sister maple on the other side of the pond, Crimson Queen is behind Garnet in the leaf department as well. You can see how White Feather is like a lighthouse beacon in the garden. Shocking almost.


By April 7, rain is in the forecast and I have been on hyperdrive doing garden chores to catch up to the growth. The pond pump was cleaned and the waterfall reconnected. We pull the tubing for winter to keep the works from freezing and to give oxygen to the fish, Fido and Casey. Even in the rain, white feather is brilliant on the hillside.


This restart requires wading into the pond, which is steeply sloped and lined with uneven rocks that are covered in slimey algae, very slippery. All manner of footwear and get ups have been worn to do this yearly job, but this year sneakers and waterproof pants rather than the neoprene waders worked very well. The water was the warmest it has ever been and our hands were able to fiddle with the tubing while retaining feeling in the fingers. Gloves don’t work for this surgical maneuver and it is often painfully cold. We even sat down in the water, making for a more comfortable back position, a real benefit of ninety degree days. April 8 saw over an inch and one half of welcome precipitation, nice and steady with some thunder but no hail as others received from this weather system. It also brought a thirty degree cool down. This photo and the previous one were taken from inside our bedroom, looking out the open sliders during the rain.


Sunshine returns on April 9 along with normal temps for this time of year, 65F. White Feather is showing a little less green around the gills.


The garden is revived, and not a moment too soon. The flowers look refreshed and happy. Perhaps the hosta will remain white a while longer now, but will eventually turn a solid green. Rain really is a miracle.


The title of this post refers to the two previous stories from years past about this plant and the tree peony that normally blooms around this time. The peony buds are beginning to swell as of this writing. It will be featured when the opening occurs. To view White Feather in 2008 and 2009 click on the links below:

Tree Peony And White Feather2008
White Feather And Tree Peony Et Al2009

Frances

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36 Responses to White Feather Without Tree Peony

  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    Glad your weather has cooled down and you got some rain, Frances. We need some rain soon – but not until I get some more plants into the ground! This is a lovely hosta, how do you keep the snails away? I am sure snails must love all that stone to hid in. I am trying to grow less hostas and replace the ones I have with the bigger, tougher leaf ones. But it is hard to throw a plant out!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Thanks Sylvia, the cool down and rain arrived just in the nick of time to save the garden, literally! As for the snails, they are really not a problem on our slope, maybe it is too dry for them there. One spot, under the garage deck that is the lowest and wettest on the property seems to hold the most snails and slugs, all the primroses had to be moved out of there to save them. Carex, astilbes and erysimums are happy under there now. Might I suggest the strongest hosta in the world, Royal Standard? There is nothing that stops it, and while the leaves are a simple green, the flowers in August are large white fragrance machines. This hosta will grow in full sun, in the driest of environments, as well as the wet shade. We believe it is still growing under the addition, where it was dug out many times but we never would get the whole root. It grew up through the boards before the room was finished. :-)
    Frances

  2. Spring has not only sprung in your garden but is jumping around in great leaps and bounds. It is hard to keep up with all that new growth, especially the weedy kind.

    My maple is about to burst into leaf but not there yet. White Feather is a lovely Hosta and looks good with your Maples.

    Not long now til Malvern, can hardly wait!

    Hi Yolanda, thanks. Things happened fast this year, I am still trying to get caught up with pruning, moving and planting before the true heat of summer comes upon us, in about a week! White Feather is an early spring delight, the emerging leaves are unique and beautiful. They do compliment the maple, or maybe it is the other way around. I am trying to put Malvern in my pinkie toe, to keep from stressing out completely about the traveling, but so look forward to being there and meeting everyone! :-)
    Frances

  3. gardeningasylum says:

    Hi Frances, White feather is a real standout sited near that maple! I’ve been out ‘adjusting’ the frog pond in the warm weather, soon to end here. Slippery and muddy and wonderful, though I confess I didn’t sit down! Cyndy

    Thanks Cyndy. I didn’t intend to sit down, if you get my meaning! lol But the warmer water was surely a blessing this year. I can barely squeeze into the neoprene fishing waders that belonged to the young gardoctor, good thing they are stretchy! Funny how the fish are so curious about legs and rear ends in the water. They even let me pet them! :-)
    Frances

  4. Randy says:

    Frances,
    Beautiful hosta, makes a great show in the garden. I only have hosta here where deer stay away from it, nothing as nice as that one. The first primrose is like ours 12 year old one, the show is almost ready on that one awesome!

    Thanks Randy. A 12 year old primrose? That is inspiration for more planting! HA :-)
    Frances

  5. Frances, I bought White Feather last year after reading about it on your blog. It is still to early to tell if it lived through the winter yet, my garden is just waking up, but I have high hopes.

    How wonderful, Deborah! Hostas are very hardy, aren’t they? I look forward to seeing your white feather emerge from the earth! :-)
    Frances

  6. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, I love how that white Hosta looks along the red Japanese Maple, just beautiful!I also find it interserting to see the small differens in wather we have. Here it’s about 57-59 degrees every day now but still there’s no sign of any maples leafing out yeat. Sigh.. it’s hard to be patient about the garden in spring “lol” Kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. I have left your typos in because your follow up comment is so funny! Sorry. I know your spring will come soon and the treasured maples will be breathtaking. I planted out the daylily seedlings today. Now to see how long before they bloom. :-)
    Kram,
    Frances

    Oh my.. who wrote that comment?! It wasn’t me “lol” It must have been someone with a bad spelling problem (then I could have been me) Or someone who’s fingers slipped A LOT on the keyboard (then it was me!) It should be INTERESTING and WEATHER of course! I think I’ll have to put the blame on the sun!

    This made my day, Gittan, thanks! :-)

  7. Jenny B says:

    White Feather is very striking–even if it weren’t paired with the Japanese Maple, but an amazing combination. I am a sucker for anything white. What a charming picture (in my head) of you petting the fish.

    Hi jenny, thanks. I too like white flowers and leaves, but they are so hard to photograph! The fish are so friendly when we are in the water, maybe they think we are something to eat! :-)
    Frances

  8. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Frances, This IS the hosta to take the place of all hostas. Absolutely beautiful as it emerges from the ground and then opens into leafy elegance. I could certainly make room for this in my garden.

    Your garden in full spring glory looks a picture, a tapestry of colour and texture. You must be so thrilled.

    Thanks so much Edith. This is the hosta that we are most excited about in the spring, although the others are wonderful garden friends. This time of year is thrilling, the perfect word to describe each day as we look out to see what’s new. :-)
    Frances

  9. Janet says:

    I remember White Feather from last year, though I think this year’s photos really showcase it well (better?). I am not sure about the deer in our new garden so I am refraining from anything on the top 10 list of deer favorites. I believe hostas are number one! I think White Feather would be a wonderful addition (if the deer aren’t too thick).

    Hi Janet, thanks for being a regular reader! The nice rainy winter has made all of the hostas look their best ever. We could use more rain right now, several inches below normal already. I do believe the deer love hosta, and daylilies. How about planting a shield of something aromatic like rosemary to throw them off the scent? :-)
    Frances

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t found this White Feather. I will have to request it for a gift sometime. Maybe it will magically appear in my garden like other feathers often do. I like seeing the overall look of your garden too Frances. It is so full of beautiful nature.

    Hi Lisa, thanks, I hope you can find some. This was mail ordered then potted up in the greenhouse for a few weeks before planting out. It took a couple of years for it to look like much, this is the best it has ever looked.
    Frances

  11. Galloping gardens are fun, aren’t they, Frances? I swear I can hear stuff growing in yours, just like I can hear it growing in mine. In fact, when I walked around the garden in the morning, that second clump of red trillium that live in one bed were NOT up. After supper, they were there, sticking up two or three inches. The hostas haven’t woken up yet, but with this weather continuing, they’ll be along soon–I am catching up to you at this rate!

    Hi Jodi, they certainly are, but I feel like so much is happening, I might miss something! You always do catch up, sometimes sooner rather than later, like it seems is happening this year. :-)
    Frances

  12. Phillip says:

    I love that hosta. I will have to look for that. I’ve never tried growing primroses. Your garden looks lovely!

    Thanks Phillip. You have nice shade there, white feather would be a great addition. So would primroses. :-)
    Frances

  13. What a wonderful progression of “time lapse” with the lovely hosta. It does seem as though plants are growing in front of our eyes as we watch. I love this time of year of renewal.

    Thanks Cameron. It is a fabulous time of year, my favorite month in fact. Rarely can I take those daily photos of something emerging, this time it happened. :-)
    Frances

  14. Gail says:

    White Feather is so lovely~It compliments your garden plantings beautifully…I’ve decided that two colors necessary for any southern garden where we have a lot of green time are most reds and whites…gail

    Thanks Gail. The reds and whites are exactly what all that green needs. You have been studying the color wheel! lol
    Frances

  15. Hi, Frances! Your pics always do the trick. I’m not a hosta fan, though your photos certainly made me appreciate this beauty. Your season seems to be in hyper-drive. Mine is exceptionally slow to get started this year. I’m sooooo anxious to play in the mud.

    Thanks so much Kate. This hosta is special for the few weeks when it sports the white color. It will go green and blend nicely, helping out with the dreaded little leaf syndrome. Hostas are good for that. I was just thinking, while sitting in the dirt and sifting the sticks out of the compost with gloved fingers, how much fun it was. :-)
    Frances

  16. VW says:

    I’m definitely intrigued with the White Feather hosta – please show pictures when it finishes leafing out and greening up! I love the shots that show the area around the hosta with the pretty Japanese maple leaves coming out and hellebores in the background. A perfect spring postcard, I think.

    Hi VW, thanks. The scene by the pond is one of my favorites, in all seasons, but especially when both the white feather and maple are leafing out in spring. I will be sure to take a *green* shot of this hosta. I am trying to do a hosta posting this year for the Plants We Grow page.
    Frances

  17. Stevie says:

    I just saw this hosta in a catalog and was wanting to buy it. Deep shade I have plenty of!

    Hi Stevie, how fortuitous! I can give white feather a thumbs up, especially placed where it can be backlit in early spring before there is too much shade from the nearby deciduous trees.
    Frances

  18. Lona says:

    Hi Frances. That first primrose looks like the one I grew from seed. I just had a picture of it on my blog Monday. It is sure hard to miss the striking colors. I have seen the Feather hosta in catalogs and thought it would be very pretty and your is. Will it turn green later on? Your ledge garden and waterfalls is looking so pretty. Beautiful time of the year.

    Thanks Lona. Growing a primrose like that from seed is quite an accomplishment! Kudos! White Feather will turn a solid green in about a month or so. I am not sure what triggers that, day length, temperature, age, but it always happens.
    Frances

  19. Joanne says:

    A lovely Hosta and the garden looks great in the spring sunshine.

    I have been away without a computer and only just catching up hope all is well at the Fairegarden

    Thanks Joanne. We missed you and welcome back. Things are well here, hope your own garden is giving you delight as well. :-)
    Frances

  20. Sweet Bay says:

    White Lettuce does indeed look like a fancy lettuce. I like it.

    Things are moving fast here too, incredibly fast, although the current dryness will probably start to slow the tempo. Not a bad thing, as long as it rains eventually.

    Hi Sweet Bay, thanks. It does have a lettuce look to it. :-) We are in need of rain as well, but things seem to be speeding ahead even without it. I am trying to get all the seedlings in the ground before true drought and constant heat hit.
    Frances

  21. Hello Frances,

    I have never seen hosta sprout before and unfold. They don’t grow here for obvious reasons, but I have always loved their beautiful foliage. Thank you for sharing your photos.

    Hi Noelle, thanks. The unfurling of the hostas, and the emergence of their pointy spikes is one of the highlights of spring. Glad you enjoyed them. :-)
    Frances

  22. Hi Frances
    What a beautiful fotos you shere.
    Here in Sweden the spring has just begin.
    I love it!
    Ken

    Hi Ken, thanks so much and so nice to see you! I am glad spring has come to your beautiful garden. It must be divine. :-)
    Frances

  23. The “white feather” is beautiful, especially against the red of the maple. What a lovely combination. Glad your weather has cooled down – we all need a true spring to get things going properly. It’s been absolutely amazing here in Toronto – my hostas are just beginning to unfurl their leaves in the southern exposed garden.

    Thanks Heather. I am glad you are getting spring up there as well. We always feel guilty when things are so pretty down south and you all still are under piles of snow. Not this year! :-)
    Frances

  24. threadspider says:

    What a glorious plant combination, White Feather and maple, both inspired and inspiring. Spring in your part of the world looks glorious.
    Thank you for the cheers on VP’s blog-I appreciate them.

    Thanks Threadspider, so nice to see you here. I know how much your friendship means to VP. She is lucky to have a fellow garden lover to traipse about with. Hooray for you both! :-)
    Frances

  25. Jim Groble says:

    Frances,
    Thanks for the tour. The primrose is great looking. Your hosta are ahead of ours. Hosta pics are so cool right before the leaves unfurl. jim

    Thanks for coming along, Jim. Funny, White Feather is the only hosta that gets the special treatment with photos and a story, while all the hostas are beautiful as they emerge. Must rectify that! :-)
    Frances

  26. Tatyana says:

    Those feathers look like white flames!

    This is one of those plants that lives up to the hype in the catalog, Tatyana. Thanks for stopping by. :-)
    Frances

  27. Rose says:

    Wow, this ‘White Feather’ really does draw the eye, Frances. I’ve been drawn to the darker blue hostas in recent years, but I may have to re-think my narrow-mindedness. ‘White Feather’ is a great way to provide some light in the darkness. By the way, I’m a big fan of primroses, too; such welcome spots of color in early spring.

    Thanks Rose. White Feather will turn green in about a month and not provide any light in the dark, but for that one month, WOW! There are other hostas with lots of white variegation that will do the same thing to brighten a shady spot. Glad to hear you love the primroses as well, they are just so sweet. Like you. :-)
    Frances

  28. I know how you feel, rushing around trying to get gardening chores done because this spring is so early and things are growing by leaps and bounds. Your Japanese Maples are the perfect foil for that spectacular Hosta.

    Thanks MMD. It is wearing me out, working so fast and all day, every day. Slow down, spring! :-)
    Frances

  29. Darla says:

    Your weather was perfect for your garden/pond chores..Now, I’m wondering if my Hosta is White Feather. Your gardens are looking alive Ms. Frances.

    Thanks Darla. I hope you have White Feather, it is a keeper even if it does turn green later on. The new spikes of emerging leaves are better than flowers. :-)
    Frances

  30. I love that hosta, one I haven’t got and haven’t seen before. Must acquire. . . like I need another plant on my “need to have” list!

    Truly enjoyed this photo essay and the time lapse, Frances.

    Thanks Hands. This is a good one. We don’t have a lot of hostas here, sunny and dry are not to their liking, but we do have a few and this is my favorite, in spring. :-)
    Frances

  31. Balisha says:

    I love this hosta. It would really show up back in my woods border. A nice addition to your garden.
    Balisha

    Hi Balisha, thanks. It sounds like you have a spot already picked out for White Feather. :-)
    Frances

  32. Catherine says:

    Oh I love this Hosta. I think I remember seeing it on here last year. I have lots of new shady planting space for Hostas, and I’d love to find this one. That pond cleaning is yucky work. I was wishing I had waders on the other day so I could sit down while cleaning it.
    PS I hate to see bare dirt too :)

    Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping by. White Feather does not stay white, but is quite showy in the spring, turning to solid green later on though. It was years before I figured out to try the waders when cleaning the pond pump. Still slippery though, with those algae covered rocks on the bottom no matter the footwear. Sitting is so much more comfortable, if the water is not too cold. This year it was almost like going for a pleasant dip, the temps were so high. HA about the bare dirt, it just screams for plantings to us. :-)
    Frances

  33. joey says:

    It was 84º today here, Frances, and way above normal. I can hear my garden grow … painfully … since too fast :( I have huge hosta beds and now coveting ‘white feather’, one I don’t have … and won’t sleep well until I find her :)

    Our gardens have growing pains, dear Joey! I do hope you can find White Feather TODAY, sleep is so very important to overall health, mental and physical. :-)
    Frances

  34. Turling says:

    The primrose is absolutely stunning. First time visiting your blog, and I think it’s fantastic. I’ll be by plenty.

    Hi Turling, thanks and welcome. I am glad you liked your first visit, and hope you return for many more. :-)
    Frances

  35. jen says:

    Oh Frances, I am simply transported to another place when I read your blog. What a beautiful Hosta, and such stunning foliage in your garden.

    Jen

    That is the sweetest thing, dear Jen, thank you. White Feather is looking grand still, larger than ever, but beginning the turn to green. Still lovely, in any color. :-)
    Frances

  36. sequoiagardens says:

    You and your garden really are addictive – its rather nice playing catch-up and getting an OD ;)

    Thanks Jack. Gardens are the most wonderful thing to be addicted to. Can one ever get enough? Not me. :-)
    Frances

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