If you follow my blog, you will know that I garden in predominant shade. While this might present a challenge to most, for me, a shady character in my own right, it is my idea of bliss. I do not do well in sun, heat or humidity, preferring the cool, shaded refuge of Teza's Garden. Of course this does not mean that I do not covet those plants that are happiest in a bright, sunny, hot locale. Enter Acanthus hungaricus, my second selection for Joy's meme.
A bold, true specimen plant for the garden, Acanthus hungaricus is native to the Caucasus. Its huge, 30" long foliage is deeply lobed with prominent midribs. White, and often pale pink flowers with purple-shaded bracts are borne in racemes 24-28" long in early to mid-Summer. It does prefer full sun, in soils that are lean, and survives and thrives quite happily when planted quite shallowly. Others plants would quickly give up the ghost, but one has to remember that in the Caucasus, most soil is grit ad gravel at best. This species is perhaps the hardiest of all, surviving on his own in my Z5 garden with no winter protection, not to mention a heaping dollop of compost in the Spring!
If you have not surmised before now, it also lends itself to rather spectacular candid photo-ops! I can spend an hour trying to capture the perfect composition to best exhibit its sublime structural magnificence! I have witnessed absolutely massive clumps, often 1m in width, but find in my shaded garden whose soil tends to run to the rich and acidic, it has remained an easily manageable presence. I am blessed with three or four flower spikes every year, and can only shake my head and laugh when I hear exasperated fellow gardeners bemoan: 'But Barry, he's not supposed to be one of your shady characters..... move him out into a sunnier position!'