Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hostas: a non-gardener's best friend

Continuing on with the theme of gardening without actually gardening, I have decided my best friend in the perennial beds is the humble hosta.

I admit to having moved to Mucky Boots with a prejudice against hostas in tow. It dates back to the first house Kim and I had, a little place in Toronto with a postage-stamp backyard filled with hostas. I remember them as being slimy and slug infested, and as my introduction to gardening they creeped me out.

So when we got here and I saw all the hostas in the perennial beds I was disappointed. How stupid could I be? Because not only do hostas come in a huge variety of colours and sizes, and fill out a bed in a mounding, lush way, they require nothing of me except a few minutes to clean them up at the end of the fall. They're supposed to be shade lovers, but the ones we've got here seem to tolerate part sun, full sun, moist soil, dry soil, and everything in between.

Just look at that bed: variegated hostas and finer-leaved yellow hostas in the foreground, and an enormous green hosta in the background.  If you hunkered down and looked underneath you would find some of my arch-nemesis the creeping bellflower, but the hostas do such a good job of staking their territory the bellflower never seems to get past the ground cover stage.

And although I hesitate to put this in writing (because as soon as I do I'll be proved wrong) we don't seem to have a problem with slugs. And it's not like we don't have slugs here - look at this sucker, for instance. 

But they don't seem to trouble with the hostas. In fact the only thing that does any damage is an occasional deer that comes to chomp off the flower spikes.

And here's another good thing: hostas give you more hostas. Not only do they tolerate being divided, they like it. Last fall Kim and I went on a hosta-dividing spree and now we have even more hostas doing their lovely thing without a bit of input from me. 

That's a bit of a lopsided friendship: I badmouth the plant and it responds by giving me things. I'm trying not to feel too bad. I'm just trying to mend my ways.


Alison said...

Plants can be forgiving like that. They're very zen. :)

Karla said...

Oh, that slug! I've never seen one that big and I hope I never do! I'm so glad you've learned to love the Hosta. They're so forgiving, pretty, and like you say just keep on growing. If you do have trouble, just put down something shallow like a cottage cheese container lid (although YOU may need something bigger) and fill it with beer. They love the stuff, and it will take care of them. I hope your knee is feeling better!

Shim Farm said...

I remember seeing my first banana slug in Victoria - and sort of freaking out at the size! I think you'd need a whole keg of beer to control those babies LOL.

Hostas are the best. My fave foliage plant ever. I keep threatening that during my retirement, I'm going to start a hosta plantation. Years ago, I bought an awesome book entitled "Hostas" (doh!) by Rosemary Barrett. I think it's out of print now, but if you ever see it at a second-hand bookstore, pick it up. It puts a whole new spin on the subject.

Hope you're not over-doing it in the garden LOL! Remember your resolution!

k said...

I've gone through the same epiphany. I actually dug some hostas out of my flower beds years ago. Not sure what convinced me to give them another shot, but now I marvel at how great they look in my shady neglected side garden.

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