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Planting seeds of friendship through Hosta College


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All three daughters laughed hysterically at me on Monday night. Actually they laughed at me and another fine mother, Lisa Wheat. If we weren’t at a school function, they all three probably would have dropped to the floor with their belly guffaws and rolled around in a high state of amused delirium.

Lisa’s daughter, Cassidy, and my youngest, Phoebe, have spent the last four years cementing a friendship through swim and tennis meets and practices. I conservatively estimated that these two young ladies have endured over 1,344 hours of sweating during tennis practice and exchanging out-of-breath glances after a set of one hundred 100s — that doesn’t even account for the actual swim meets and tennis matches. I’ve listened to them encourage, console, give advice and giggle with one another.

On Monday after the swim banquet, as Lisa and I talked about gardening, my eldest daughter blurted out, “Oh my goodness, it’s like looking into a mirror.” Cassidy and Phoebe had both rolled their eyes in repugnance of the conversation that brought memories of their hours of being recruited for their mothers’ love of all things horticulture.

Lisa and I did what any good gardening mom would do in this situation — we ignored them.

I appreciated that Lisa didn’t ridicule me and label me a geek for attending Hosta College in Piqua, Ohio, the previous weekend. She shared my interest and enthusiasm for discussing hosta tetraploids and the newest varieties.

Readers: If you are a garden bigot or bully and side with my daughters, read no further.

If you side with me and are an enlightened progressive lover of life and plants, especially the hosta varieties, here’s a sampling of what I learned at Hosta College:

  • Hostas are immortal. “If something doesn’t eat it, they’ll live forever.” — Hybridizer Bob Solberg.
  • Hostas are drought tolerant, but need lots of water to look their best.
  • Hostas grow great in containers and can be used as indoor plants.
  • To control slugs, as soon as hostas pip, spray them with a solution of ½ cup of ammonia and 1 gallon of water. Continue as needed.
  • To grow giant hostas, use Miracle Grow foliage plant fertilizer the first of May and June.

Land of the Giants Hosta Farm is only five hours away in Milton, Wis. Even better, they have a website.

My new hostas, “Infatuation,” “Bridal Falls,” “Blueberry Waffles,” “Big John” and “Tidewater,” will be eye-appealing additions to my gardens this summer.

Maybe I’ll have Phoebe invite Cassidy over to help put them in before they head off to college.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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