Gardener's Grapevine 04.13.2011

Written by David Green.

By Jo Erbskorn

Hello, fellow dirt lovers. Wasn’t it a beautiful weekend? It seems the thought of spring is the thing that gets me through the awful winter months.

Let’s go back to spring clean-up and yard work from last week. Now is the time to clean up around your area, even if you live in a complex. There is always something that has blown in since fall. At our house, it is the left over leaves from the whole west end, and they seem to love our fence and flower beds. The dogs add to the winter’s accumulation, so we have shovel and bucket duty.

These tasks are so much easier before the rain and muck of spring set in and they make your living space so much more pleasant to look at. Also, in a month or so, you won’t want to be cleaning up. The fun is in the planting and playing in the dirt.

Let’s talk about hostas. They are great plants with so many benefits. They do not have to be split, but over time will get enormous. They are so easy to split when the little points are a half-inch out of the ground, but so awkward after they have leafed out. Contrary to a friend’s theory that they scream when you split them, they do not. Hosta plants will fill back in after a few years. So to prevent overgrowth and gain more plants, split them.

To split the hostas, dig around the shoots. I normally go a good six inches beyond the spikes as some are slower than others to sprout up. Use a short handled long-nose spade and get the whole plant out of the ground. Shake or knock off the dirt so you can handle it more easily.

Set the plant right-side-up and slice straight down across the entire middle, nine o’clock to three o’clock. Then slice across it twelve o’clock to six o’clock. If it’s a huge overachiever, it can be cut into small sections, or whatever size you want.

Replant one section in the old spot and find new homes for the rest. Your neighbors might want some, or I put the extras at the front curb with a sign and people stop and take them.

Hostas enjoy shade and moderate sunlight. They may do well in sun in the spring, but on burning hot mid-July days they will get leaf-burn and not look very happy or attractive.

There is a new hosta on the market that is white in the spring and turns light green in mid to late summer. It sounds interesting. I always enjoy something new in the flower beds. There are numerous types of hostas and the miniatures are a favorite of mine. There is dragon tail, which has small yellow leaves and actually resembles a dragon’s tail. I love mouse ears, which look like tiny little mouse ears. There is another miniature called cat and mouse.

When you look on-line for hybrid varieties of hostas, you quickly realize a beautiful garden can be planted with all hostas. My grandmother, Katherine Wollter, has a hosta garden by her back door. It is probably five feet by sixteen feet. We have split her hostas twice in five years and they are huge again. She planted the giant leaf varieties in multiple hues and it has a very peaceful effect.

Hostas also work well to hide yard items that can’t be moved, so hostas are usually a good pick for anyone and they take very little care.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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