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Gardener's Grapevine 2011.11.09

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

Was this past weekend a keeper or what? I spent all day Saturday cleaning up yards—my mother’s, the church yard and ours. It was perfect sweatshirt weather. My grandmother has a saying, “I can go until I drop, I just drop a lot faster than I used to.” I understand that sentiment, and Sunday my muscles were screaming my age at me.

While cleaning up the church I realized something amazing. Over the last five years, many people have donated hostas to our landscaping project. As I was cleaning up the grounds I found it odd that some of the hostas were completely gone—frosted into fall death, yet some were healthy and happy.

As I looked at them I realized that the dead ones were all the same type, just as the healthy ones were another type. It got me to thinking again about not only zones, but also varieties of plants and how even if they are related they may not have the same temperature tolerances.

Some plants while in the same family have very different needs and tolerances. Sharon Bruce told me she has a hosta that is very sun tolerant. To a hosta lover this is an oddity, as they most generally love the shade.

After she told me this I spoke with a nursery person at Rhodes nursery in Toledo. The owner is one of the top hosta breeders in our area and a huge contributing member to the Toledo Botanical Gardens hosta club. I was told that there are hundreds of types of hostas with more coming every year. There is a hosta for any area of your property.

My favorite hosta is Mouse Ears, a miniature hosta with little leaves that are shaped like mouse ears. There is also another miniature named Dragon Tails and the leaves look like yellow dragon tails. A person could go hog wild with these plants and to be honest, what plant is easier to care for?

I have written before that my love of gardening comes from my mother-in-law and my husband. This is mostly true, except that as a child I spent a lot of time with one of my grandmothers and she was a huge gardener who was originally from the south. Not only did she have a green thumb she had great recipes.

I loved fresh snapped beans with ham or bacon and red beans and ham, but my very favorite was pickled corn. Sound disgusting? Some people think so, but it is actually very yummy and I am a fussy eater. It is just raw sweet corn on the cob packed in a crock of salt brine. You eat it just like regular sweet corn off the cob.

My daughter has a very green thumb. I told her to plant marigolds around her garden and the rabbits and coons will leave it alone. She planted marigold seeds and the plants were the size of a bushel basket. She just has the touch.

My mother-in-law, Betty Erbskorn, is the same way. She planted petunias one year, and what should have been an annual is a perennial—they come up on their own year after year. It is the same with snap dragons, she has them everywhere. There is even one growing out of the bricks in the side of her porch. It’s the strangest thing to see, and so far the frost has not effected it. I guess it’s protected by the all-powerful green thumb!

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