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And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden . . . You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.

~ Rudyard Kipling ~

From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

April got here faster than I ever remember, the iris are already in full bloom and I have given a pound or two of sweat trying to keep the weeds from taking over. Some of the new coneflowers are are coming along quite fast: E. 'Southern Belle', E. 'Raspberry Truffle', E. "Guava Ice', and E. 'White Double Delight' will soon be ready for shipping, to grow and flower in your garden!
Mark your calendar: Our spring driveway sale will be the first weekend in May. We'd love to meet you and chat about plants and hear about your garden. If you can't visit in person, visit us on our web site.
Happy spring weeding and planting, Belle
Green Thumbs Galore LLC

Taking a Hosta Risk

by Dava Stewart

Most everyone I’ve talked around the country to says that the weather is about a month ahead of “normal.” That is certainly the case in Tennessee, where most all the trees have leaves and azalea and iris are in full bloom.

I still feel cautious, though. The last freeze date for our area is in mid-April, and while it has been tempting to put squash, tomato, and pepper seeds in the ground since early March, I’m holding out. The peas and potatoes, though, are growing like crazy, as are my hostas.

The first year we lived in this house, I planted a small flower bed at the end of the sidewalk leading to our door. All it consisted of was a Knockout Rose surrounded by a few hostas. Over the years, plants my children gave me as gifts, plants I bought on sale, and plants my friends were giving away were added, as well as a few herbs and vegetables. Last year, I grew lettuce, peas, oregano, dill, thyme, basil, parsley, iris, zinnia, rosemary, a decorative sweet potato, and some monkey grass that refused to die in that bed.

Even though the garden got bigger, the hostas, which once served as a border, stayed in the same place.  Now they are huge! And sitting smack in the middle of what has become a kitchen garden. They need to be separated, and like many others, I thought the best time to do that would be in the early spring.

Of course, this year, “early spring” lasted about two days. From the time my hostas first poked up until they were fully leaved was about a week and a half. They seem to like this exceptionally warm spring.

Since I missed what I thought was the ideal time to separate and move them, I started doing a little research to figure out when the “next best” time might be. Now, I’m glad that I waited, because it turns out that the early spring is an easy time to separate hostas, but not necessarily the best time.

In the early spring, hostas don’t have a big root system, so if you move them and then a couple of exceptionally warm days come along, they are more likely to suffer and not grow well the rest of the season. It is easier to separate them because of those small root systems, but not particularly healthy.

Later, when the soil is warmer and the hostas have developed stronger roots, they are better able to withstand transplanting - as long as you make sure they stay watered for several weeks after moving them.

Doing all that hosta research was both instructive and a little intimidating. I’ve separated hostas before, but certainly didn’t do what the expert hosta-growers recommend. According to my reading, it is a good idea to dig up the hosta - 18 inches from the plant! - then wash the roots so that you can see what you are doing. Then there was something about the crowns...I’ll admit, I quit reading at that point.
Here’s what I did instead:
1. Dug in a circle around each plant, beginning about two inches from the base.
2. Pried them up using my shovel and brute strength. (They were HUGE.)
3. Wrestled them onto the sidewalk, and pushed them over so I could see leaves and roots.
4. Chopped them into quarters with my trusty ax.
5. Dug holes and loosed the dirt around the edge of my newly expanded garden bed.
6. Put the plants in the holes and “tucked them in.” (I always think of tucking a child into bed when I plant. Weird, I know.)
7. Thoroughly watered them right away and at least once a day for at least a week, and every couple days for about a month.

As you can see, I certainly didn’t follow the advice of the experts. However, I’m happy to report that, two days after being divided and transplanted, my hostas look really perky and happy. It’s easy to feel intimidated about various gardening tasks if you try to follow expert instruction too closely, but the reality is most plants are tough.

It’s better to try things and take risks in the garden than to be paralyzed by the fear you will hurt your plants. You may kill a few, but, more likely, you will end up with a beautiful garden that brings you hours of enjoyment.

Mark your calendars: Our Spring Driveway Sale is scheduled for the weekend of May 5th, 2012. Call or check our web site for directions.


April in the Garden:

New Cones for 2012

Echinacea Southern Belle'

Echinacea 'Guava Ice'

Echinacea 'Raspberry Truffle'

Echinacea 'White Double Delight'