Southern Indiana Living

SEP-OCT 2018

Southern Indiana Living magazine is the exclusive publication of the region, offering readers a wide range of coverage on the people, places and events that make our area unlike any other. In SIL readers will find beautiful photography, encouraging s

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Sept/Oct 2018 • 11 nial garden bed — the last thing I needed. Inspiration popped up as I looked over at one of those other beds — itself about 20 years old — and noticed it had been shaped with the help of curved land- scape bricks. That bed had long matured into a solid mound of ornamental trees and perennials. Those bricks were no lon- ger needed. But if somebody was to move those bricks about 30 feet and form a tight circle around that sprawling pile of dirt, a guy could have something new. A circular hos- ta mound, rising up in the barren shade and visible just out the window of the new back room. Sure. Just follow the gardening-idea dots. Again. New sunroom. Pile of dirt. Deep shade. Curved bricks needing a new mission. A circular hosta mound about 12 feet across to be enjoyed just out the new windows with a Heineken companion. I've always liked hostas anyway; their leafy presence and rising flowers can be a more constant garden companion in otherwise tough areas. Mostly originat- ing in China, Korea and Japan, hostas can dominate those shaded areas with an amazing variety of sizes, shapes, blended colors, fragrant flowers and stupid names such as 'Outhouse Delight' and 'Pineap- ple Upside Down Cake.' Some miniatures are barely 4 or 5 inches across. The largest can get 4 to 5 feet across. We tend to forget about such time and distance travels in gardening, most- ly figuring the plants originated 5 miles away at some nursery across from Thorn- ton's. But the hosta journey from Asia to Hidden Hill began in the 1700s as plant explorers first sent them back to Europe. They made their way to the United States in the early 1800s, but the big flood began in the early 1860s when one Thomas Hogg Jr. was sent to Japan by President Abra- ham Lincoln to serve as U.S. marshall. Hogg, whose family first started a nursery on Manhattan Island in the 1820s on land where 23rd Street and Broadway now intersect, began shipping hostas and other cool Asian and Japanese plants back to the states during the Civil War. Thus, President Lincoln — who grew up and developed into the man he became in Southern Indiana, a fact all but lost to history — is very much part of this modern Southern Indiana Living tale of a guy growing a round hosta bed outside a new back room in Utica. More full circle. Honest. Once the raised hosta bed idea was born, work proceeded in quick fashion. Two hard-working employees moved the curved bricks and created the lower level of the bed. That part was OK, but it need- ed a curved-brick crown on top to literally seal the deal. The additional dirt for that came from The World's Biggest Compost Pile, a rotted mound of perfect, black, crumbly soil created over the past 25 years from dead plants, weeds, grass and the occa- sional lost pair of cotton garden gloves. The word "friable" was invented for such glory. Using our trusty 35-year-old Kubota tractor, it took about five scoops of friable to do the trick, followed by the placement of the brick crown. A lesser man would have had tears in his eyes staring at the results. All that remained was the plant- ing of about 30 hostas in circular rows. Among the best was the miniature 'Holy Mouse Ears,' a creamy, blue-green beauty that can get 6 inches tall and sounds like an exclamation of surprise. Moving up the row was "Paul's Glory,' the 1999 Hosta of the Year that's all chartreuse and blue- green and will eventually get a booming 25 inches tall and 55 inches wide. At the top for now — and it will be years until this skinny bed fills in — are three 'Sum and Substance.' It's the ever- dependable monster that will stretch thick, heart-shaped leaves to 60 inches wide and 30 inches wide, with fragrant white flowers rising 38 inches in the sky. Abraham Lincoln — the name of a hosta, by the way — would be proud. • Bob Hill owns Hidden Hill Nursery and can be reached at farmerbob@ hiddenhillnursery.com. For more information, including nursery hours and event information, go to www.hiddenhillnursery. com About the Author The hosta journey from Asia to Hidden Hill began in the 1700s as plant explorers first sent them back to Europe. They made their way to the United States in the early 1800s, but the big flood began in the early 1860s. 'Paul's glory'

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