If you have a shady patch in your garden or simply wish to create a cool and tranquil corner, consider planting Hostas. Also known as plantain lilies, these are some of the easiest, most care-free but decorative plants to grow.  They spread out beautifully but remain fairly close to the ground, meandering along paths to create steady, consistent foliage. They have bold leaves with exquisite detail. Some leaves pucker; others are almost quilt-like. The patterns and colours on their leaves are fabulously bold ranging from deep blue greens to creamy yellows mingled with bright greens.

Hostas prefer damp, shady conditions and a rich, well-drained soil. If you plant them any time between now and early autumn they will develop strong root systems and become dormant as the cold weather sets in. As spring approaches they will send up green rocket-like shoots.

Then when the days get warmer they will rapidly unfold their large, heart-shaped leaves with a dramatic flourish.  Hostas tend to be pest free and deter weeds, however they are prone to slug and snail damage.

There are a plethora of different varieties of Hostas, some of the most popular include the Hosta aureomarginata which has leathery dark green leaves edged in yellow. It has mauve flowers in mid-summer and grows to about 50cm in height and 90cm width.  Sum and Substance has huge, rounded, puckered leaves that grow to about 90cm high.

Franco Williams is an old favourite which also grows to about 90cm in height and spreads out even further. Hosta Golden Tiara has mid-green leaves irregularly edged with yellow and bell-shaped, deep purple flowers. Slightly shorter than some varieties, it grows to about 30cm and spreads to about 60cm.

Ground Master lies prostrate, spreading along the ground. It has dull green leaves with cream edges and the flowers are deep purple and funnel-shaped. Wide Brim has heart-shaped dark green leaves marked with cream along its leaf edges; its flowers are a pale lavender blue.  Finally, Hosta sieboldiana has earned a reputation for being one of the most beautiful and hardy, with its huge, roundish leaves that turn a blue green.