Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rock Ideas in My Hosta Gardens

I mentioned in an earlier post how I like to use river rock to add drama to my hosta gardens. My rock ideas are a hit with my friends as they look over my hosta gardens. I hope to be able to express in this blog some of my rock ideas that I utilize in my hosta gardens.

First of all, for gardeners like me who don't have an abundance of time during the week, rock gardens or the addition of rocks in your gardens are extremely popular for a few reasons.

One reason is because Rock gardens are generally pretty easy to create. You can use natural rocks and/or stones you find on your property, or you can purchase them from landscaping supplier stores. There are many types of rocks to choose from. I am using river rock from my land to maintain the natural look to my garden.

In addition, rock gardens or the addition of rocks in your gardens provide the, "Natural" look that a lot of people enjoy. If you are not a plant lover and want a low maintenance landscape design, rocks and stones may be just what you are looking for.

Brainstorm Rock Ideas

What look are you trying to add to your landscape or gardens? Before you begin building your rock gardens, you will need to do some planning for the rock ideas that you want to implement.

The most important detail is to estimate the number of rocks that you will need.
Prepare the Rock Garden Site

Once you are ready to act on your rock ideas, the first thing to do is to prepare the site. This involves digging up any existing foliage and grading the ground. Remember, if you have small children, you will want the rocks to be extremely stable when they lay on the ground.

Now place your rocks according to your rock ideas plan. There are many options based on your aesthetic preference. I am a fan of making a border, or ring, to separate my hostas from the surrounding hostas.

It is extremely important that you place your rocks in your garden before you add plants to your rock garden, especially when working with larger rocks that require large equipment to move the rocks.
Add Plants to the Rock Garden

Once you have deployed your rock ideas, lay out your plants approximately where you want to plant them. Refer to the spacing instructions on the tags. Once you have arranged the plants where you want them, start digging!

I have a lot of rock ideas that I plan to utilize in my hosta gardens. Out of all of the rock ideas that I have brainstormed, the one that I currently like best is placing my larger rocks next to my larger leaf hosta's. By placing my larger rocks next to my larger hostas, the leaves of the hosta are able to cascade over a corner of the rock, softening the contrast. I would also suggest planting a smaller hosta in front of the rock. If you have a small rock, try placing a single small hosta beside and slightly behind it for a similar effect.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Big Hosta Garden Thank You!

In recent post I have called the hosta plant the, "Friendly plant!" This has proven to be true over and over again. As a result of my zest to share my knowledge and beauty with you, my hosta garden has turned in to multiple hosta gardens thanks to the generous donors of this wonderful friendly plant known as the hosta.

Thank you Carl, in Wadworth ,who wanted me to come and look at his hosta garden to offer tips and ideas. He also wanted me to split a few of his hostas in his hosta garden to add to my hosta garden.

  • There is Jenny who didn't share the same passion as me in growing her hosta garden, so she called me to come and take her large hostas from her hosta garden.

  • Mary in Rittman loved her hosta gardens, but she wanted to share her shade loving plants with me so that I could expereince the same joy and serenity of the green that she experiences.

  • Lynn in Medina had beautiful hosta gardens and other perennial gardens, but wanted me to take a few from one specific garden because the deer were eating her plants.

  • Kathy in Norton said, "Come and get them" as a result of her overgrown beds of hostas.

Although I have collected the friendly plant by the truckloads, I still have many uses for each and every plant. If you have an abundance of plants and are willing to share, please do so.

Here are some other great ideas to think about when planting or dividing your hostas:

  • Border/Edging planting - Use hostas that are 12 inches in height or less but have increased horizontal growth to soften the edge.
  • Background planting - Large green hostas will show off more colorful plants.
  • Specimen planting - Unique hostas are allowed to grow into large clumps.
  • Ground cover planting - Hostas that are fast growers and form a thick mat of roots will cover the ground and prevent weed growth.
  • Highlight planting - Yellow and mostly white hostas can be a natural brightener for shady gardens or dark corners.
  • Container gardens - Miniature hostas create an entire scene in one pot, or add your favorite hosta to your annual summer container.

Thank you to all for sharing your passion for hostas with me. It is my hope to be able to continue to offer tips and ideas on how you can produce a beautiful hosta garden that will be the envy of all who visit your gardens.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


My kingdom possesses many natural resources for me to utilize. I mentioned the abundance of Christmas Ferns in an earlier post that I have found throughout my kingdom. Another abundance that I have at my dirty fingertips is river rock. When most people see a rock, they actually see a rock. When I see a rock or lots of rocks, I see a bench, a path, and a garden; a river rock garden.

It is my goal when creating my hosta gardens to create a landscape that is both interesting and unique. In trying to differentiate from other gardens I have utilized river rock to do just that. My river rock gardens have proven to be both interesting and unique. By utilizing some simple river rock garden rules and unique ideas, I have created several river rock gardens that have provided drama within my quiet hosta gardens.

When I began my river rock garden, I selectively chose a few huge boulders that I wanted to use as the focal point in my garden. In addition to the large boulders, I also searched and scoured the river for rocks with a natural interest like an irregular shape, color or texture.

I also added drama in my river rock gardens by adding a walkway of flat stones which ended up at the focal point of my hosta gardens. The winding river rock path takes you to various places and focal points of both my hosta gardens and river rock gardens. Remember, to keep your walking paths smooth and as level as possible to create a safe grounds. I found play sand worked well as an inexpensive method to help level my paths. I am extremely proud of the river rock bench that I put together in my river rock garden. By utilizing some simple principles and unique ideas I have created a look that has turned my kingdom gardens into a great family photo spot.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Alright I admit it! I use a small garden gas tiller in my hosta gardens. The hot and humid summer months here in Ohio have made me a little lazy in regards to tending to my hosta gardens. Iquickly learned when I began my Kingdom that I needed the proper garden tools to help make my hosta gardening experience a little more pleasant. My grandmother gave me a gas tiller a few years before she passed away. The garden tool that she gave me is a tool that I use abundabtly to this day, with much enthusiasm. It is a Mantis gas tiller. Although I didn't have my Kingdom when she gave me the small garden tiller, it quickly became my favorite garden tool to use in my hosta gardens. This garden tool does the work that I don't want to do during these hot months.

Now dirt-under-your-nails gardeners, I don't want you to think that I don't get on my hands and knees to tend to my garden, however having a garden tool like the Mantis gas tiller helps me by getting through the small, narrow avenues of my garden, and at the same time mulching the area around my plants. I like this particular garden tool because it is extremely light weight and MOST importantly to me, it's easy to start unlike some of my other kingdom tools. The other factor that makes it valuable to me is that I can easily switch the blades to fit my gardening need.

I recommend a Mantis gas tiller to anyone who has a garden or a few gardens to tend. This garden tool light weight, is extremely easy to use, and best of all, allows me more time to enjoy my gardens during these dog days of summer.

If you have a favorite garden tool and would like to share, please comment. I'm always looking for tips and ideas to help me in my hosta gardens.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adding Chistmas Ferns to My Hosta Gardens

My kingdom consists of many ecosystems, including an assortment of wild flowers, weeds, and Christmas Ferns. My favorite word is FREE so the idea of adding FREE Christmas Ferns to my hosta gardens was a no brainer.

In case you didn't know, The Christmas fern, (Polystichum acrostichoides), is an evergreen fern, and one of the most shade tolerant members of its species. Like most ferns, Christmas Ferns reproduce by spores. How cool! A plethora of free Christmas Ferns that reproduce annually. I'm set thanks to mother nature and her abundances, in this case, an abundance of free Christmas Ferns growing throughout my kingdom on the hills and valley walls.

As I was moving the Christmas Ferns, I was amazed with how easy it was to transplant. I simply used a shovel to dig up the soil around the Christmas Fern. I kept a large ball of its soil around the roots of the Christmas fern and moved it into my chosen transplanted spot.

My hosta gardens now have the spirit of Christmas, Christmas Ferns that is!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hosta Gardeners Frequently Asked Questions

Good morning Dirt under your nails hosta gardeners! I have been surprised by the number of hosta related questions that have flooded my email box since I started writing about my, Hosta Kingdom! Today, I am going to start my first Hosta Gardeners FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) blog. My goal is to grow a list of frequently asked hosta gardening FAQ's that you submit to me to post on my sidebar. Please remember to comment on my list if you have any hosta growing suggestions or recommendations.

Are hosta plants winter hardy?

Yes, they are amongst the more winter hardy, shade tolerant perennials. All the varieties that I have planted in my hosta gardens have survived multiple winters growing unprotected in the open. I am one of those who do not cut my hosta plants back to the surface. I do cut off the tops, somewhere above the middle, and leave the remains to act as a protector.

I am on a strict budget for my gardening. Are hosta plants expensive?

No! Typically one gallon pots that contain one or two hosta crowns sell for $5 - $6 dollars
dollars at your local gardening center. Considering these may grow in the same spot with only routine care makes them affordable. I mentioned in a previous blog that hosta plants are also called the friendly plant. So another more inexpensive method might be to ask your friends, neighbors, family members, if they have any hosta plants that they could split or share. Most often the answer is yes. One effective method that I have tried in the past is putting an ad in the local newspaper. I was shocked at the number of people who wanted me to come and, "Clean Up" their perennial gardens. hosta plants are not expensive.

What’s the big deal about hosta plants? All I see are some green plants with white edges next to my neighbor’s garage.

There have been more than 4000 varieties of hosta plants introduced over the years. There is a tremendous variety from large to small and with green, golden, or variegated leaves and with sizes ranging from four feet high and six feet across to tiny ones right at home in a teacup. There may be more variety in hosta plants than in any other plant group. I have a few favorites that I will share in another blog.

Do Hosta plants require much maintenance?

This is one of the reasons that I began my Hosta Kingdom. Hostas require very little maintenance beyond dividing the perennial clumps every three or four years as needed. Pests can be a problem. Refer back to some organic pest control suggestions that I made in a previous blog.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Organic methods to Control Your Slug Population on Your Hosta Plants

In my previous blog, I mentioned the method I prefer to keep the deer out of my Hosta Gardens. Today, I would like to give you a few organic methods that I have used to control the slug & snail population and found success.
I have found the best way to stop slugs and snails from eating your Hosta plants is to use organic barriers. Slugs & snails are soft-bodied and do not like to get scratched up. Try this organic method; surround susceptible plants with rinsed, crushed eggshells - slugs will not crawl over them, and they are good for the soil. Another organic option is to spread soot or ashes around your hosta plants. I have also sprinkled a bag of lime around my hosta plants to act as a slug & snail deterrent. The downside to these easy to implement organic methods is that you need to replenish after heavy rains.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about Beer baits. This method isn't as effective as many are led to believe, but I have tried it and it does work. In this method saucers or containers of beer are buried at ground level. Slugs are attracted to the yeast smell and drown, with a smile on their faces. I use old margarine containers as my saucer of choice. However, the slug population is usually so large that ten or more saucers need to be buried, emptied daily and refilled. During the hot summer months, I'm a little selfish when it comes to sharing my beer with pests.

Remember to use organic methods to keep the slugs & snails out of your hosta garden. By using organic methods to protect your garden, you are also increasing and encouraging toads, garter snakes, hedgehogs, and birds, all whom feast on slugs & snails to help in your efforts. Encourage their presence in your hosta garden by not using chemicals that keep them away.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Get Out of My Hosta Garden Deer

I mentioned in a previous blog how the hosta plant is also called the, “Friendly Plant” as a result of friends, family members, and other hosta gardeners sharing their hosta plants. Unfortunately, it might also be called the, “Friendly Plant” for another reason, PESTS!

Hosta plants are extremely vulnerable to attack. They seem to be particularly attractive to deer, snails, and slugs. In this blog I will give you the method that has worked for me throughout the past five years on how to rid your hosta garden of deer.

Because my Kingdom is shared by many species, I quickly learned that hosta plants were not deer resistant. As a matter of fact, after doing a little research, I learned that the hosta plant was one of the deer’s first menu choices. Lucky me!

Since I am not a hunter and all wildlife species are welcome at my Kingdom, I quickly researched safe methods to save my hosta gardens. One suggested option I found, (but not used by me) was to soak the hosta plants with commercial deer repellant sprays. The best choices were said to have a high concentration of putrescent egg solids as their main active ingredient, like Deer Off, Deer Repellent Urine, and Liquid Fence. I have used Liquid Fence in the winter months for my pine trees, another delicious treat for deer, and it did work. Another option was to spread Deer Scram around your garden or even use hot sauce to ward off the attackers.

The method I use is a cheap, safe, and effective alternative to those other options. I use the delicious smell of Irish Springs Soap to keep the deer away from my hosta gardens. I simply place a bar of the odoriferous treat in an old cut off panty hose and hang it on a pole in proximity to the plants. Guess what…IT WORKS! In the past four years, I have not had one hosta leaf eaten or chewed on by the deer.

If you have any safe, easy to use, economical methods that have worked for you to get rid of the deer, please post a link to let me know and I will publish it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How To Split A Hosta Plant

The Hosta plant is sometimes called the, "Friendly Plant" as a result of the number of people willing to share their plant. My first hosta plant that I planted in my Kingdom was split from my parents garden. Before I split their plant, I asked the question, "How do you split a hosta plant without killing it?"

As I grew fonder of this easy to grow shade plant, I have learned that splitting hosta plants is a common practice shared my almost everyone who has this shade loving plant. The pictures below are a result of many friends dividing and sharing their hosta plants with me. My goal in this blog is to share some of the secrets (or not so secret) methods that I have used over the past 5 years to split my hosta plants.

One of the reasons I took so quickly to the, "Friendly plant" is due to it's strength and durability. It's my opinion that they gave it the wrong nickname, "Superplant" would have been more appropriate. I have found that I can split hosta plants anytime, anywhere and with anything.

My methods of splitting the hosta plant work well for me, see pictures below for proof. However, there are many methods and theories of HOW and WHEN to split a hosta plant.

Described below are my methods and seasons of splitting the friendly plant:

If it is spring, I look for the eyes of the plant protruding the earth. If I see at least 5 eyes, I know that I can split the plant. I take my flat spade and place it right in the center of the hosta plant. I always want at least 3 eyes when I divide. I then make sure that the hole I left is filled in with dirt and plant the other immediately. The reason I plant it immediately is that I always pre-plan where I'm going to replant.

If it is summer, I try to dig up the entire plant by digging a circle around the perimeter of the leaves. I find it easier to divide the roots once they are out of the ground. I take my flat spade, (I have also used a sharp knife, depending on the size of the hosta) and find the natural split in the roots. If there isn't a natural split, I look at the size of the root and try to divide proportionally. I have split one hosta as many as five times, again it all depends on the hosta size. If the hosta is to big to dig out, I move the leaves to look for the natural division of the plant. once I locate that, I place my flat spade right on the spot to divide. I then slowly push the spade in with my foot. If it is too dry, you may have to deploy at lot of power to break the surface of the plant.

My favorite time to split my hostas is in the fall when the flowers are gone and the leaves start to go dormant for the winter. I am able to visualize the locations for my new garden and insert the hosta where I want it while it is still above ground.

If you have a method that works well for you, pleases let me know and I will share it on my blog. Happy Hosta gardening!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Why a Kingdom! Why Hosta plants!

It wasn't long after my divorce that I realized that I needed an outlet to escape the emotional burden and scars that going through a divorce has on the soul. What better way to escape than to tackle 40 acres of a jungle like woodlands? In essence to get back to my roots and allow the magical healing power of mother nature to take over. That is when I first discovered the magic of having my very own kingdom. The freedom to escape the trial and tribulations that life has to offer and a place to promote the inner child that is within all of us. As I cleared the brush piles and saw light for the first time peak through the tall lumbering trees, it was then I started to think of the secret gardens that I could produce.

My first garden was just off the bank of the stream (pictured above) that runs through my kingdom. It was here that I wanted to build my first garden. The problem with the area was that it was filled with poison ivy and other unknown weeds. My friends Ruthie and Dave helped out by making a fire pit out of the river stone, and later to be used for cooking purposes, and burned the debris so that I could begin my quest to build my first garden. Funny lesson to me, not to them...never get in the line of smoke when burning poison ivy. David informed me a week later that he was finally getting over the poison ivy that hit him in places on his body that he never knew could get poison ivy.

After a few weeks, the debris was finally cleared and it was time to build my first garden in my kingdom. My chosen location was amongst some very tall ash, maple, elm and cherry trees.

Needless to say, my perennial garden wasn't going to get a whole lot of sun. I had to choose some perennials plants that could be grown in shade. After consulting with my mother, who has a lot of knowledge on plants, she recommended hosta plants. So my quest for hosta began! It was through a lot of trial and error, but my garden looks like this today!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Hosta Obsession: From the Beginning!

Welcome to Tim’s wonderful world of Hosta obsession, from the beginning. I haven’t been a hosta plant lover forever, as a matter of fact my obsession for this hardy perennial began about 5 years ago. However, I am writing to inform you today that I am and will be forever; splitting, planting, sharing, writing, and dreaming of more ways to share my passion with others.

It all began in 2003 when my brother and I inherited 40 acres of jungle like woods from my grandparents. The “Woods” was nothing more than an old pasture of trees that was untouched for approximately 50 years. Through poison ivy, burned up chainsaws, foot spiked with a Hawthorne needle, and numerous other gruesome stories to share, the woods became a great place to dream, sort of like the great Katherine Paterson's classic young adult novel, Bridge to Terebithia. I had my very own Kingdom to play or should I say, to plant, hosta planting! Check out my very first hosta seedling in the top picture on the left.

Over the course of 5 years, I have continued to collect, split and grow my own hosta’s. It is my goal to learn all I can about this easy to grow, shade loving perennial that I have grown so fond of and to share my knowledge and interest with others. My collection is varied and growing more and more as I visit nurseries, friend’s home, and other places willing to share my passion for the hosta plant.

If anyone is visiting Central Ohio and would like to see my favorite place to see a wonderful array of hosta plants, Wade and Gatton Nurseries is a must see stop. They have an unbelievable collection of hosta plants and other perennials.

If you have any favorite hosta places in Ohio that you think would be a great place to visit, please email with the location.