Haboring Hostas and Becoming Elmer Fudd
All along, I considered hostas the lazy gardener’s hero. These attractive, leafy plants thrive in the shade where many other pretty things will not. They sprout flowers now and then; best of all, they come back every year.
Plant once, kick back forever, I thought. I was so buzzed by the idea this elegant ground cover would reappear every spring. I would look like a pro; all I had to do was throw in a little fertilizer and toss enough water its way– only if it didn’t rain enough.
Each spring, as the shade took over my back and side yards, I planted even more hostas. I discovered varieties with pretty patterns, and some solid ones with blueish or chartreuse tints. Some boasted interesting textures. Nature’s corduroy! (a description I assume master gardeners use.) No matter what type I selected, these beauties punctuated my yard with an air of paradise.
Last year, the deceptively cute furry creatures waged a war with me. They had stolen my easy hosta lifestyle. Imagine my shock the first time I approached my favorite original plant—the monster bloomer–only to see its massive outer leaves chomped to shreds.
“Noooo, not my big blue floppy Dumbo ear!” (That’s the scientific horticultural term.)
I dropped my hose and ran to the newer purchases on the side of the house, the ones I doggedly searched for in way too many nurseries. I had become picky about a certain crisp, creamy edged pattern on one particular variety–I just had to have it. (These are known in the botanical world as ‘The Cool Ones That Cost More.”)
My newbie plants were chewed down to the stems, like they were masquerading as chives. I hurried back indoors, revved up my search engine and found two recommended solutions: chicken wire or repellant spray.
Chicken wire was out, for aesthetic reasons. Not to mention the effort. Imagine!
But squirting a bottle of environmentally friendly stuff upon graceful leaves seemed simple enough. According to the directions, I just had to walk around, coat my hostas with a fine mist and laugh maniacally at the little hungry fur balls sharpening their teeth beneath the bushes. “Go try some dandelions, you picky little hipsters!”
Despite this battle plan, there were a few problems. The main one being I was late to the boxing match. Nothing is more disheartening than dousing an invisible layer of protection on a half-destroyed garden. If only I had paid attention the previous week, before word got out on nature’s Yelp* reviews.
However, the bigger glitch was me. Once I began spraying this “liquid chicken wire,” I was overcome. What was that…smell? I was hoping for something undetectable to humans, like a dog whistle, but for the nose. Or a scent similar to mosquito-repelling citronella, which is somewhat pleasant. But Eau de No Bunny? Even a Beatrix Potter plush toy would run away from its foul mist.
Here’s the most delicate, “fancy magazine” way to describe my take on the scent: gentle pre-dawn wafts from the dampened streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter…the morning after Mardi Gras. That’s right: bottled hurl.
So what’s this amateur gardener’s overall take on the liquid solution? It seemed to offer a total smack down on the problem. The stuff kept me out of the yard, so I didn’t even care if the hostas were there or not! Problem solved?