Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A happy hosta saga

Recent correspondence:

To: Chicago Master Gardener volunteers
From: Beth Botts
Re: Hosta rescue

Come to the Chicago Master Gardener meeting at the Garfield Park Conservatory Tuesday evening, May 26, and get free hostas!

Or else!

In the back seat of my car I have approximately 9 gazillion hosta plants in very muddy plastic bags. After the meeting I will happily turn them over to any Master Gardener for school gardens, community gardens, personal gardens or, in fact, any purpose whatsoever.

Any hostas remaining in my car when I leave the Garfield Park Conservatory parking lot will be composted.

Do the right thing! Save a hosta! or six! or a dozen!


What kind of hostas are they?

There are four varieties; I don't know the names because they were in my garden when I moved there. The majority have largish (not huge) green leaves, bloom with white flowers in midsummer and mature to clumps about 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall. Some have narrower, darker green leaves, get only about 18 inches tall and have lavender flowers quite late, like September. The other two are green-and-white variegated kinds; I don't remember when they bloom or what color.

Are they easy to take care of?

They're hostas. If you plant them in decently rich soil in part to full shade and water them until established, they can survive anything except Round-Up, nuclear holocaust or digging them up and composting them.

Are they good clumps?

They vary. As the afternoon wore on and the supply of plastic bags diminished the clumps got bigger. But they all are big enough to establish nicely in your garden.

Are they in good condition?

They should be. I left them in the car with the windows open and I think it's raining.

Do I have to plant them in a community garden?

No. You can plant them in a school garden, in your own garden, in your neighbor's garden, in your mother's garden or in the parkway. You can give them away or trade them for a plant you really want. You can hawk them at a stoplight. You can forget about them on the porch until they die and then compost the remains. I don't care. I just want them out of my car.

If I can't pick them up at the meeting, can I get them some other time?

No. I need the car for something else Wednesday. Any hosta left in the car dies.

Are you really that ruthless?

You betcha.

Why are the bags muddy?

I was digging up and dividing hostas in the rain. It was an inherently muddy situation.

Why were you gardening on Memorial Day?

It was too rainy for cookouts or parades.

Why did you dig up so many hostas?

I was looking for a place to plant a little hydrangea in a 4-inch pot, and I said to myself, "Well, if I just move that one clump of hostas," and one thing led to another. My yard is almost all shade and I have hostas like some people have mice.

Are there really 9 gazillion hostas in the car?

Yes. I counted.

You did not.

OK, I'm guessing, based on the fact that I used every single plastic grocery bag in my house and scientific studies have determined that the average number of plastic grocery bags in an American household is approximately 9 gazillion.

Why are the hostas in the back seat?

Because I should have gotten the hatchback.

After you dug up and divided enough hostas on the sidewalk to fill the back seat of a 1995 Honda Civic sedan up to the back window, was the sidewalk very muddy?

Did my neighbors put you up to this?

Where did you plant the hydrangea?

What hydrangea?

The happy ending: Despite torrential rain Tuesday evening, all the hostas were adopted in the parking lot, bound for community gardens as far away as University Park. Someday, the car may be vacuumed.

If you are interested in going through training to become a Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Illinois Extension, click here.

Got a garden question? I recommend you call or e-mail the Plant Clinic of The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, the Master Gardeners of the University of Illinois Extension or the Plant Information Service of the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

All contents of this post are copyright Beth Botts. Feel free to link or share a brief excerpt with a link, but please do not reproduce photos or any other part of this blog without my express permission.

1 comment:

Paul Botts said...

Hoho! Gardening, we see here, is not always pretty.