Hosta, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

If hostas were dudes, they’d be burly manly men, guys who know how to reshingle the roof and put up drywall. These plants are garden workhorses, and this homely little photo illustrates why.

Last fall, I dug and divided one hosta after another, replanting them in bare spots, particularly those areas where I’d eliminated some useless and unidentifiable shrubs. I could not for the life of me figure out why the previous gardener who lived here had planted these bushes. I gave them a full two years to redeem themselves, but they were disappointments—no blossoms, no fruit, no pretty skeletons to provide winter interest. Even the foliage was uninspired. So, out they went. And in went the divided hostas.

About a month ago, I figured out the true purpose of those shrubs: erosion control. They were in a shady border that stays moist virtually all summer, on a slight grade that ends in a swale where our backyard abuts the neighbors’. Snowmelt and spring rain washed a considerable amount of topsoil down into the swale, leaving more than a dozen transplanted hostas sitting there helplessly with their roots hanging out. The soil was too wet for me to wade in and replant them. Reader, I was the very picture of despair. All that work, swept away. I figured my only recourse would be to plant them all over again and hope they survived.

Lo and behold, the garden is now about as dry as it ever gets—and check it out. The transplants are sprouting new leaves in spite of me. I’m reluctant to disturb them by digging in and replanting them more deeply now—what the heck, they seem to be doing fine. But I’ll give them a nice warm blanket of mulch, just in case.

Posted on Friday, April 16th, 2010 at 8:08 pm. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are 5 comments on this post.

  1. Thomas says:

    Actually the photo looks like a scene from Starship Troopers as one of the giant bugs begins to emerge from the ground.

    Also, you never said how you felt about my goat suggestion.

    Posted at April 21st, 2010 at 1:54 pm

  2. Judybusy says:

    I too, ripped out some fugly shrubs and replaced with them hosta last year. I have the best best friend in the world, as she divided about 15 hosta plants–stuff like ‘Sum and Substance’ ‘Frances Williams’ ‘Biscuits and Cream’ etc, etc and gave them to me! They are just now coming up and I can’t wait to see them all. In your case, I would definitely add some soil, and try to put some netting in place till the hostas grow enough to provide erosion control. Best of luck!

    Posted at April 21st, 2010 at 3:21 pm

  3. tt says:

    Thomas, I can’t even get my spouse to agree to a cat or a (very small) dog. A goat is out of the question.

    Judybusy, I covet your friendship. And your hostas! You really can’t go wrong with these things.

    Speaking of hostas, does anyone have a recommendation for getting keeping deer away from them? They have a well-worn path they follow through the backyard, and some smaller cultivars—right beneath the apple tree, which is one of their favorite spots to eat anyway—are chewed down to the ground. I’d prefer a natural solution that’s chemical free. Has anybody had luck with bloodmeal?

    Posted at April 22nd, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  4. Thomas says:

    Um, I have a solution to the deer, but you probably wouldn’t like it.


    Posted at April 29th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

  5. tt says:

    You’re right; I wouldn’t. And anyway, I like seeing deer roaming around. I just don’t want them eating my damn hostas.

    Posted at April 29th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

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