One of the great benefits to being a part of a garden club is being able to see other gardens. This past weekend the Spring Hill Garden Club took a tour of a very cool garden based all around everyone’s favorite shade plant: Hostas! We visited Cornelia’s garden who is the president of the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society. Her garden is amazing. It’s full of hostas, hydrangeas, and another unique specimen from Japan: rhodea. Other plants are interspersed for variety but the almost 700 varieties of hosta take center stage in every garden. Some are in pots and others in the ground in smaller garden areas surrounded by walking paths. There is no grass to be found in the main garden and growing grass would be a challenge with the amount of shade Cornelia’s garden possesses, but her love of hostas makes it a perfect landscape for the garden. The pathways wind through her garden and offer a fantastic view of each individual garden area. Large leaf hostas like ‘Sum and Substance’ as well as many small miniatures in hypertufa containers like ‘Gosan Gold Midget’ can be found all around. With almost 700 varieties of hostas in her garden Cornelia says that she doesn’t divide them and prefers for the hostas to grow on to their full size.
She also shared a ton of interesting knowledge about hostas with our group. One of the most fascinating pieces of wisdom was how to identify hostas. I can only begin to tell you how as it is highly complicated but to identify a hosta you need to see them in flower, be able to count the veins on the leaves, the shape and color of the leaves and a few other factors. Like I said it’s highly complicated to trace a hosta back to its roots (so to speak).
She grows a number of hostas in pots including some of the large varieties. Cornelia recommended putting screening in the bottom of the pots to keep out voles and other damaging pests, then adding a layer of gravel for drainage, and lastly filling the pot with a soil level that rises above any glazing. She successfully keeps her pots outdoors year round with this method. (If you are in a zone colder than z.6 this may not work as well.)
The webmaster for the MTHS recommended to me to use large pine bark nuggets inside the planting holes when planting new hostas. The pine nuggets help to add drainage and provide slowly decomposing organic matter to the soil. Adding organic matter is often needed here in Tennessee due to our heavy clay soil.
Cornelia’s garden will be a featured garden for visitors from the American Hosta Society National Convention which will be in Nashville in June of 2012. In preparation for that tour she is getting all her plants into the ground this year. Next year will be a year for fertilizing (she recommended a tomato fertilizer) and growing (not planting) with 2012 being the garden’s showcase year. When it’s time for the tour she doesn’t want any plants to appear as though they were just planted. It will be one very beautiful tour!