Monday, August 2, 2010

For Novices Only?

I read a piece a few weeks ago about how hosta and daylilies are for novices only—that no self-respecting experienced gardener would have such lowly plants in their garden—unless it was as a placeholder for something else. I thought immediately about the Shady Sisters, long-time gardeners whose gardens contain primarily hostas because they are shaded by many oaks. The hosta in their gardens are the show pieces and definitely NOT placeholders.

I was taking out some unwanted shrubs the other day and the client asked me how I got to know so much about gardening. He wanted to know if I had taken college level courses in either botany or horticulture. I told him I had taken a botany class last year but that most of what I know comes from experience – many years of trial and error, success and failure. I told him that I started by reading everything I could about what was in my garden and continued by being curious about what other gardeners had in their gardens. The knowledge just builds from there.

The client has LOTS of hosta on the property and shrubs (with more hosta) around the foundation. Their vision for the property is simple, clean, and elegant – roses and boxwood. But, in addition to the hosta and shrubs, there are eleven oaks on the property—providing lots of shade. The boxwood will tolerate some shade, but the roses need a lot of sun. I suggested they may need to alter their plan and was met with some resistance.

After these experiences, I have formed my own conclusion about hostas and novice gardeners. I think it’s not the plants you use that makes you a novice gardener, it’s whether you understand the growing conditions and needs for the plants you choose to use in your garden. So, if you have lots of shade, a hosta garden may be just the right thing.

What do you think? Are there plants that experienced or long-term gardeners should avoid?

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