Hosta Tardiana Group

The "Tardiana" Group of hostas was developed by Eric Smith (1917-1986) in England . It consists of many blue colored hybrids of H. 'Tardiflora' × H. 'Elegans'. This was a very unique cross since one normally blooms in early season while the other flowers in the fall. One year, the early flowering H. 'Elegans' decided to put on a few re-blooms late in the year allowing Smith to cross breed it with H. 'Tardiflora'. The most famous cultivar is H. 'Halcyon' which has been used in hybridizing many new cultivars.

Members of this group of hostas have rich blue-green foliage and are generally about medium size. Its leaves have 12-13 pairs of veins. The Tardianas produce pale lavender flowers in clusters during the late July to mid-August period of the summer.

Noted hosta collector, Peter Ruh amassed 39 of Smith's plants between 1979 and 1988. In accordance with correspondence with Smith, Ruh then went on to registered them. He obtained the plants from Julie Morss (11 of them), Alex Summers (7), Paul Aden (5), Beth Chatto (1), Peter Paris (1), Ken Anderson (2), Handy Hatfield (2), Sandra Bond (1), Mrs. Stevens (1) Russ O’Harra (1), Roger Bowden (2) Dr. Ullrich Fischer (1), and traded to Wisley Botanical Gardens for four.

We have gathered over 100 hosta cultivars in our database that are noted as being "Tardiana-type" hostas. Some of those listed are from the original breeding lines that started with Eric Smith. Others are plants that have some or all of the classic traits of Tardiana hostas in their color, leaves and flowers but are not part of the original line of plants.

Noted nurseryman and hybridizer, Bob Solberg in The Hosta Journal (1994 Vol. 25 No. 2) states that "Eric Smith...created a new color in hostas as well as several new leaf forms. The dark green base color from H. 'Tardiflora' overlayed with the white H. 'Elegans' wax resulted in the bluest hostas to date. The Tardiana grex, introduced in the mid-1970s, not only gave us a group of beautiful hostas with increased substance, but gave hybridizers the encouragement to try more "out-of-season" crosses and expect breakthrough combinations."

An article by Warren I. Pollock in The Hosta Journal (1997 Vol. 28 No. 1) states that, "H. 'Blue Blush' is described in nursery catalogues as "small" or "dwarf." In fact, when mature it is neither small nor dwarf. As a young plant, 'Blue Blush' is small, perhaps an 8-inch mound. But after about 5 or so years, it takes off and becomes a medium size plant. The 'Blue Blush' registration by the British Hosta and Hemerocallis Society if for a young - not mature - plant...Sandra Bond says that if you want to keep 'Blue Blush' small, keep dividing it. She adds that 'Hadspen Heron', another in the Tardiana Group, responds in the same way."

Writing about H. 'Canadian Shield', H. 'Devon Green', H. 'Peridot' and H. 'Valerie's Vanity' by Warren I. Pollock in The Hosta Journal (1997 Vol. 28 No. 1) states that, "These four hostas are mutations of 'Halcyon', arguably the best of the late Eric Smith's blue-leaved Tardiana Group...Are all four cultivars the same? I haven't seen any evidence they are different."

An article about the Halcyon Group by Peter Cross in The Hosta Journal (2004 Vol. 35 No.2) says, "Though 'Halcyon' is not the bluest hosta now available, no blue hosta has yet to match the balance of color, size, habit and growth rate that has made 'Halcyon' the classic medium-sized blue hosta...One simply doesn't have a hosta collection until it contains at least one clump of 'Halcyon'. ..is a first-generation member (TF 1 × 7) of the legendary Tardiana Group of hostas, which consists of hybrids of 'Tardiflora' × H. 'Elegans', produced in England by Eric Smith,  the master hybridizer of blue hostas, in the 1960s.

...The first sport...was aptly named 'Goldbrook Glimmer', discovered by Sandra Bond of Goldbrook Plants in England...features a narrow "glimmer" or blaze of green down the middle of the blue leaves...The variegation is most pronounced in cooler climates and early in the season...In especially warm climates, the mound will appear a solid blue by the end of the summer.

....I have difficulty choosing a single favorite hosta but, when I am pressed, more often than not H. 'June' is my choice. This queen of hostas is the best-known sport of 'Halcyon', taking the dusty blue leaves of the parent and adding a splash of yellow to the centers of the leaves...As with 'Goldbrook Glimmer', climate plays a huge part in the appearance of 'June'. It needs a little bit of direct sun early in the season to bring out the brightest golden-yellow tones in the centers of the leaves, while cooler temperatures are needed for the best blue coloration. (Specimens of 'June' that I've seen in Britain and New Zealand surpass all description.)"

Here are the Tardiana-type hostas that we have in our database in alphabetical order by the name of the cultivar.










 
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