I Was Looking For Hosta Plants But Found A Friend
The Incomparable Hosta Lady
Hosta plants were the life's passion of my friend (name withheld due to family's issues with my article). She had the kind of yard that would be my ideal - no grass! She lovingly moved her hosta through 40 years and four states. During the last 20 years her yard was a licensed nursery. Hosta lovers from everywhere flocked to her gardens in the summer, where she would dig "starts" for you one at a time with an ancient knife and lady gardener spade. Every hosta had its story to tell and she would be glad to share it with you.
Her mind was still as sharp as the ratty looking huge knife she used to divide her hostas, but her vision was being stolen gradually by macular degeneration. When she was forced by loss of eyesight to move to a retirement apartment in 2001, She asked me to "adopt" as many of her plants as I possibly could. Over 300 of her hostas and other perennials made the move to my place in August 2001. My friend passed away in 2002. Her legacy lives on in the Hosta plants in hundreds of area gardens. This story is shared as my tribute to her memory.
This photo was taken right after I'd finished giving her a haircut on the front porch. Fun day!
A Word From Your Author... After receiving a barrage of hurtful accusations, threats of "action" and more from my friend's family members, I have temporarily removed my friend's name... and much of her story... from this article. Now they want me to remove the pictures of her too. Not happening.
My Friend's Yard, Entirely Hostas & Other Perennials - A yard with no grass... how cool is that!
Me, Digging In Her Gardens - Talk About A Workout!
I was having some difficult times, and playing in dirt with my friend was the best therapy in the world... "Dirt Therapy!"
A Walk In The Hostas
"Come on and go with me, you've got to see the hosta lady's gardens," my neighbor Jeff insisted. "You're already filthy from gardening, so it'll be perfect," he said jokingly. Did somebody say Plants? I'm in! We took off in his old Suburban for an old part of town that I had never explored. "Here we are!" he exclaimed.
There emerged from the front screen door of the once-neat blue-and-white small ranch home a tiny figure. "Hey," she called, "Are you here to look at hostas?"
The spry little 68-year-old woman took us on a tour of her gardens, which comprised her entire yard; everywhere you looked there were different varieties of hosta; no grass could be seen. She pointed out this and that favorite as I watched in amazement. She recalled every plant's name as if it were a long-lost friend.
At this time I had only three or four hosta in my yard. Her hostas intrigued me but not nearly so much as the woman herself - something about her made me want to come back and visit. In a strange way she reminded me of my late adopted mom - something about her feisty attitude.
I stopped by one day and knocked on her door - she was surprised to see me again and wanted to know if I came back for hostas. "No, " I told her, "I just came back to visit with you if you don't mind!" She invited me in and showed me around her little home. It was obviously in a state of neglect and I soon learned why. She had lost her husband about a year before and soon after, she suddenly lost most of her vision.
I was amazed at her wonderful sense of humor! She cracked jokes and chain-smoked Eve 120's as we chatted. She told me that she was born and raised in the Red River Valley on the border of Texas and Oklahoma. She lived on the Oklahoma side of the river in a tiny town. She showed me an old recipe book that the town's womenfolk had published back in the 1930's. What a treasure!
We shared a love of gardening, we read the same mystery authors, loved to cook, and had many other common interests. It was difficult to break away from our visit, only letting me go when I promised to return.
Return I did, this time with my teenaged son, John, self-proclaimed "Mr. Fix-It," in tow. He went straight to work clearing trash from the yard and house while I vacuumed and dusted. I visited her a couple of times a week. I would do up her few dishes, throw away the moldy food from uneaten delivered meals, and make sure her freezer was full of ice cubes for her beloved ice water. Her other essentials were dark Milky Way bars and the infamous Eve's. We kept her well supplied with both. Our friendship intensified along with the cold as fall drew into winter.
The following spring, she gave me a tremendous education held in a dirt classroom for weeks on end. One day, she dug up a start of what she said was her very favorite hosta, "Paradigm," and said "Here honey - this is for you." After that, she began to send "starts" home with me each time I visited. I accepted each one with great excitement. I was "hooked" - a hosta addict!
One late summer day a couple of years later, she told me her family wanted her to move to a retirement home. She was terrified that when her house was sold, the new owners would mow down all the hosta. I tried to assure her that no one would ever do that to such a splendid display, but she was insistent. She asked me to take care of all her "babies" for her, after allowing her family and friends to take what they wanted first. My son and I moved over 300 hosta plants from her gardens to my yard. It was a labor of love, creating new flower beds to hold all the newcomers.
In October, the relatives showed up with a U-Haul truck and began taking apart her "dying house," as she liked to call it, reflecting her wish that she stay there until she died. Furniture was carried past as I gave her a haircut on her front porch. I gave her a pair of red earrings, her favorite color and put makeup on her to "fix her up" to meet her new prospective friends.
All the while, my heart was breaking for her. I could not imagine giving up a cherished home of more than 30 years, leaving all the hundreds of plants purchased one at a time and babied so much. She sent all her mystery novels with me, more than 200 of them. It was just... everything that was her, vanished. I could not imagine her sadness.
After her move, I was ill and unable to drive to her new city. Finally, in April, I just had to talk to her. I dialed her number and found it was disconnected. As it turned out, she had spent the past two months in the tiny cemetery three blocks from my house. I went and found her and cried all over again.
There is a hosta named "Scooter." It's my favorite one.
I can never pay a tribute high enough to honor this scrappy little woman, whose friendship changed my life forever.
My friend gave me a tremendous education with lessons held each week in a dirt classroom.
The Big Hosta Move To My Home In Mid-August - There are dozens of hosta plants in each big container!
Coffee Buddies - My Friend, Like Me, Never Without A Cup of Coffee!
Didn't she look pretty in this picture? This was taken when she could still see well enough to put her face on and fix up.
The Hostas begin thriving at my home
A Very Special Visit! - My Friend Came To See Her Hostas At My Home!
One time, I convinced her to come over to my house! She was really afraid of leaving her home but she trusted me. Mom and I spent a lovely afternoon showing her around my gardens. They are both in heaven now but this is such a treasured memory!
What Do You Say?
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The Hostas resumed their travels with me.
In the winter of 2007, we were transferred 500 miles away. After the first hard freeze the previous fall, I dug up as many hosta as I possibly could and packed them in cardboard moving boxes, then left them outside so they would go ahead and freeze up and be dormant for the move. Here they are planted and thriving again at our farm.
This Lens Was Awarded A Purple Star By Squidoo On June 13, 2012! - Thank you, Squidoo!
The elusive Purple Star is an award given by Squidoo.com for writing achievement. It is a highly coveted award here at Squidoo, and I am very grateful! Thanks again, Squidoo!