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Re: Hosta Ramblings---and mass planting

Gerry O'neil wrote.  >>I am thoroughly enjoying this exchange - in my mind,
it's what a discussion
group should be for.
My sentiments exactly.  (Those who are on this list primarily to help answer
questions may now jump to the last sentence--it's a long ways down).  Part
of what we were talking about here was discussed in a sermon at my church a
couple of weeks ago.  Oh, I'm not going to talk religion and really stir
things up, but I am going to tell you a little bit of what I remember about
that sermon.

It was about "taste"--i.e. a person's personal preference for this or that.
I think the point was that we should NOT criticize a person for their
"taste" in things.  This landscape design topic is an example.  Some of this
is self-correcting, e.g. the young child who insists on going to school with
a striped shirt and plaid pants on, because they are both his/her favorite.
The peer group will help them adjust their thinking to some reasonable use
of colors and patterns and how we try not to wear clashing items
simultaneously.  Our gardener friends will do the same with our
arrangements, if they are bold enough or if we ask them for input.

This is how I look at landscape design.   I was born a person with little,
if any, innate talent in design.  Oh, sure, some friends think I come by it
naturally and that it is "so easy for me".  If there is ANYTHING on the
premises that looks good, believe me, it is because I have either stewed
over it for years and finally "accidentally" hit upon a nice arrangement, or
lately, it would be because I have allowed myself to seek the opinion of
counsel.  I have either hired a consultant or bartered with them to offer
their opinion.  Lots of people have more talent than I at this sort of
thing.  It used to be an ego thing for me, "I want to do this myself".  Now,
I say, "I want to be smart enough to know when to hire a professional".

I was trained in college to debate a topic in the affirmative or the
negative.  If you have never been on a debate team, then you missed out on a
really wonderful learning experience, but maybe you never had a real "taste"
for debate.  We had to be ready at a moment's notice to argue either side of
the case, and to have our ducks all lined up to support or refute an
argument regarding the debate topic (and you debate one topic for the ENTIRE
season--if you want to get GOOD at it, you learn to argue either side well
because you never know until the last second which side you must support).
It was excellent training but to this day, my wife thinks I'm "arguing" when
in fact I am simply 'debating'.  I ENJOY a good debate!

So, when someone states that they think there are only 500 "good" Hostas,
those may not be fighting words, but they certainly COULD be making this
statement with an INTENTION of sparking a debate.  Tony Avent is certainy a
learned man in horticulture.  What I believe he MAY be saying is that there
is SOME number that are good and it's way more than 50, but something less
than ALL of the registered varieties. I will indefatigably argue that 90% of
the varieties that I have in my garden are GREAT hostas, and I haven't even
scratched the scratch of how many MORE wonderful varieties are available
that I could add.  I could add HUNDREDS to the nearly 400 varieties and have
hundreds of great ones still from which to choose.  (I personally think we
will see THOUSANDS of great Hostas added to the already existing base that
will be awesome, but that is another topic).   What if I had NOT recently
added Mount Tom or City Clicker to the collection, because I had determined
that I had identified all of the "good" ones?  These are awesome plants and
complete novices (people I see at the farmer's market who barely know what a
Hosta is) can pick them out as better plants immediately.  Is the list of
500 to be a finite number, necessitating removal of an inferior cultivar in
order to insert a new "good" Hosta?  Perish the thought.  It would be like
Mozart trying to determine which notes to cut for the King when the piece
was already perfect in his mind.

When I say GREAT Hostas, however, remember that this is a matter of MY
personal "taste".  Some people's tastes are more refined than others, but is
this something we should criticize one another about?   Heaven forbid!.  It
would not only be silly and rude, it would be crude (my pastor would say
sinful).  I cannot tell another what they like. I may disagree, but
certainly preference in landscape use of plants IS a matter of personal

IMO, for the use of repetition in the landscape, each to his own.  That
said, however, there ARE some things that just look better to a LARGER
number of people and that is where I feel some training is required. I've
said this before and it is wonderfully appropo--"a perennial has not found
its permanent place in the landscape until it has been in the wheelbarrow
three times".  A Dan Nelson and a Ran Lydell, and score of others on this
list I am sure, are on the order of landscape design "gods" in my mind.  And
this means they can get the job done with the plant being in the wheelbarrow
only twice, and sometimes, though rarely, once.  Anyone with that level of
talent can come over to our place and tell me where to move my Hostas any
time they want.  Don't be messing with what "I" think is perfect, however,
because some things actually HAVE been in the wheelbarrow three times and
they are EXACTLY where "I" want them.  It's a taste thing...!!!

For some reason, I can design more easily with grasses than I can with
Hostas.  Anyone have an idea why that might be?  Is it maturity of clump

Andrew Lietzow
The Emerging Hostaholic

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