Hosta la Vista, Baby


If grass could be nurtured by being watered with tears, I’d have the lushest lawn in town. Instead, the backyard increasingly resembles the aftermath of Sherman’ March to the Sea. I’ve written before about the annual rage-fest that commences lawn mowing season. To briefly recap: I hate mowing, and all that that implies. By extension, I hate grass. Fortunately (?), the ever-deteriorating state of the lawn means I have less grass to hate every season.


Five years of expensive lawn treatments have yielded remarkable results!

My lawn suffered years of benign neglect under my father’s watch; since I bought the place a dozen years ago, this patch of scrubland has suffered a much more active form of attack: the withering force of my contempt. Twice a summer I have the local “lawn care specialists” come in to “feed and weed.” Judging from the ever-widening patches of barren dirt they leave in their wake, I can only assume they are “feeding” a potent diet of arsenic laced with antifreeze.

I’m okay with that.

My mother, whose 89 summers of disappointment have somehow not yet crushed her optimism, would continue planting and watering grass seed every spring and fall until Armageddon. Not me. Every blade of grass we fuss and stew over, only to have it wither and die by season’s end, is just one more reminder that I could be spending my time and money much more productively on, say, hostas.


Well. That’s nice and … green.

This is a big step for me, admitting that I need hostas in my life. Of all the garden stalwarts, these leafy greens are my least favorites. They’re just … green. Yes, I know there are varieties that are striated or pale or blue-green. Still boring. However, hostas offer one great advantage over showier vegetation: they’re damned hard to kill. They also grow in shade, which, thanks to my father’s slight obsession with trees, we have aplenty.

One of these things is not like the other.

One of these things is not like the other.

Our friends at Wikipedia inform me that there are 45 species of hosta and more than 3,000 registered cultivars. They range in size from four inches to over six feet. They are sometimes called “plantain lilies,” which seems nefarious, since the spindly, half-hearted blooms that appear on these things in late summer resemble lilies in exactly the same way that the Mitchell, South Dakota Corn Palace resembles the Taj Mahal – which is to say, not at all.


Broadleaf plantain. I’ve spent a lot of money to eradicate this hosta lookalike. Irony is fun!

Nor, as far as I can tell, do any of these cultivars produce a banana-like plantain fruit, which would at least be interesting. They do, however, somewhat resemble broadleaf plantain, a common weed that I’ve spent a helluva lot of time digging OUT of the yard. This, I believe, is what they call the Circle of Life.

Despite my distinct lack of enthusiasm for this plant, I have decided it is at least better than … nothing. So this year I went whole hog and ordered a “pre-planned hosta garden” comprising 20 hostas AND a “Hosta Mixture Super Sack,” which includes an additional 10 plants. This represents my second-to-last resort. If the hostas fail to take off, I will commit to that ultimate solution for the lazy or discouraged lawn owner: spray paint.


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