H. 'Fire Island'
According to Bob Axmear in the Hosta Library, 'Fire Island' came from Bill Brincka in 1998. The leaves are greenish yellow with flat margins and the top is slightly shiny while the underside is dull. The leaves are intensely wavy and broadly ovate. The petiole remains red for the entire season. The flowers are lavender and tubular. It produces green pods. Its parentage is longipes hypoglauca x 'Crested Surf'. Viridescent. Ever since I first saw pictures of it, 'Fire Island' has been on my 'Most Wanted' list. I was fortunate enough to receive one as part of my Secret Trade in August 2007. The picture however does not quite match the description Bob Axmear gives as you can see, but for an immature specimen that is to be expected.
The batch of 8 varieties I was blessed with in this trade looked a little battered and tattered, this one in particular. That would be primarily because the lady who grew them had been hit with 2 hail storms within the month prior to shipping. No big deal though, it's fairly late in the season, I'm seeing early signs of senescence all over and as long as these get a decent chance to establish their roots for the winter I don't really care.
Here we are, not quite a month after receiving these and look: all four shoots are putting up new leaves! If it carries on like this, by the end of September it might look very presentable. This kind of growth this late in the season bodes well for this variety's vigour. Can't WAIT to see what it'll do next year!
A day or two later after this picture was taken however I had come to the conclusion that something was very wrong with what I was seeing on some of the leaves of this and other varieties I received about 3+ weeks ago: foliar nematodes! I was none too pleased, that goes without saying. Drastic action was taken, all detailed on the page linked above, and while it is still early days, the divided, bleached and repotted 'Fire Island' divisions are putting on a nice bit of growth and hopefully enough new roots to be able to make it through the coming winter.
Two and a half weeks later and this is one of the four divisions that were made as part of the nematode treatment. These leaves look fine, but the real story of success or failure will not be told until August 2008 unfortunately. Meanwhile all these will be kept in isolation and away from other Hostas to make sure they do not end up infecting more of them in our yard. The whole sordid affair is detailed a bit more on another page and some fairly drastic steps were taken. While the short term horizon is mid August 2008, the long term outcome is at least a couple of years away. I'm quite happy in retrospect that I took the bleach bath action when I did, I feel it has increased the chances of getting probably all 4 divisions to come up again next year.
Hope springs eternal though, doesn't it? It's October 6th 2007 and this is one of the four 'Fire Island ' divisions. Looking pretty good, what?
While it may still have looked promising in October, by early April '08 it is showing to be a slow poke. Most of the other 'bleach babies' have broken ground and some are in fact showing some nice growth, like the 4 shoots on the Ice Age Trail compared to its single one when I received it, Fire Island has just barely started to break surface and then only in one of the four pots. Not terribly encouraging. Then again, maybe I'm expecting too much. First of all it's the first spring I'm going through with this cultivar and it seems to me most everything in the yard is at least 2 weeks behind where they were this time last year. So, I'm not panicked, just over anxious perhaps?
While 3 out of the 4 are now showing a bit by the end of the 3rd week of April, the 4th looks to be a goner. When I took a closer look at the pot it's in I noticed what looked like the remains of a small Hosta division on top of the potting mix, are dry and shrivelled. A quick bit of rooting around in the mix failed to bring evidence of a small division actually being in it and near as I can figure is that something must have uprooted the division over the winter and it would have been too dry for too long probably. Oh well, there are still 3 left and they would appear to be growing, so not all were lost and that's the main thing.......... At least, that's what I assumed, but lo and behold, I noticed on April 29th that the pot with that 4th, dried out root in it -which I watered liberally I might add- in fact had the first signs of a leaf coming up. So, it looks as if this shriveled root either wasn't as dead as I thought it was, OR, the crown wasn't were I thought it was in the pot. Regardless, it's good to see nonetheless, now it's nursing them along for the season to see how they fare and to what sort of size I can get them by the time they'll get ready to go down for the winter snooze again.
This is the quartet, May 7th 2008. Nothing too terribly big yet, but they're up and at it, a couple of them even with 2 shoots!
We're now into the middle of August and there is no sign on any of the 3 remaining 'Fire Island' divisions that they still are nematode infested. That's very good to see, particularly in view of how badly infested they appeared last year.
April 15th '09 and even though seemingly the rest of the plants are roughly two weeks behind where they were this time last year, this cultivar seems to be the exception. The leaves seem quite a bit larger then they were this time last year and that's just fine by me. Even though we are now done to just 2 pots, they both seem to have quite a bit more vigour this year.
We're now just past mid-April '09 and I just love the way this cultivar colours up, the bright golden yellow with the red petioles provide such a nice contrast to the green of most of the other plants you see coming up around it.
One of the plants has been transplanted into one of the garden boxes and it is starting the show some of the wavyness it is known for, saw none of that last year. Where it is planted out -the large raised planter at the north end of the pergola- it gets mostly shade until about 3PM or so and it will be interesting to see how quickly it viridesces. The other division is staying potted up and placed in a tray of water to make it sure it stays well hydrated and it will be in mostly full sun. This should allow for a quick and easy pictorial record to illustrate how light influences this and other cultivars.
Here is the potted up one on May 7th and first thing you notice is how much the first leaves have faded. The new growth continues to be that bright yellow and it will be interesting to see how soon we'll start seeing the chartreuse green it showed all of last year.
What started out as an experiment with placement in full sun of a number of yellow Hosta cultivars, including this one, has proven to be one that really has not met with a lot of success. In the picture above, which is from early May, you can already see the outer leaves -those are the ones to unfurl first- are starting to loose their colour. By early June those leaves have withered and the new growth is coming up greener. And it's not just this potted one, the one planted out earlier in the spring is behaving the same way, even though the number of hours of direct sun is lower for that one, those are mid to late afternoon hours, the hottest ones of the day. I have noticed a very similar response from both 'Dawn's Early Light' and 'Cheatin Heart' and it's safe to say that next year all these yellow cultivars will find a spot with far less direct sunlight exposure. Nice bright colours are one thing, but not at the expense of the overall growth and strength of the plant.
2011 was a very dull, wet spring and summer for us, and with that comes a reduction in the amount of bright sun the plants would have been exposed to. To the right you see the same plant you see above and while the dates they were taken fall in different periods -the top one is from early June and the one to the right is from early September- there is quite the difference here. For 2011 there was far less of an issue with burn-out and there was good growth. I look forward to seeing how this develops in 2012.
Hugo's Database gives more information on this cultivar.