In the battle of woman vs. hostas…

…the jury is still out!

This week I began a campaign to thin out the thick clumps of hostas at the side of the house. These particular hostas are mixed in with thick clumps of lily of the valley, clearly crowding each other out, and for some reason they’re on the sunny side of the property – clearly, a cry for help to be moved to more spacious, shadier spots.

Before--hosta clump

Hostas in a thick clump (before dividing)

Now, I should divulge that there is a history between hostas and me. My first encounter with the plants came before I was five years old, in the side lawn of my childhood home.

1989 garden with hostas

Circa 1989. Note the old yellow Nova, little girls in a kiddie pool, and innocent-looking hostas in the background.

I remember my mother, decked out in her gardening bandana, digging in the garden bed you can see in the picture, in winter before the hosta leaves began to unfurl in their lovely spiraling April finery. We encountered a mass of roots in the clay soil so huge, so gnarly, that in horror she chucked the entire thing into the woods behind our house. Upon impact the wad of rhizomes and roots came dislodged, and from that point on a sea of hostas greeted us behind the house each spring and summer.

So this week, with a smile remembering how tangles of tubers underground create such beauty, I read this article in preparation to do battle. Sure enough, the steps worked pretty well for me! I dug around the just-unfurling hosta leaves (separating out lily of the valley plants as I went along) until an entire root mass came out. Then I sprayed those roots with the hose to dislodge mud, and came away with something like this:

Root mass of hostas

Hostas, ready to be divided

Now for the hard part – separating the plants. At least the lily of the valley plants were easier to free, and I hope to find shady homes for some of them today!

After hostas and lilies divided

Lily of the valley ready to transplant, and hostas (black pot) still needing to be divided.

I enjoy watching “Man vs. Food,” and at the end of each episode Adam Richman declares whether he won or lost vs. the extremely large, spicy, or fatty dish he’s attempted to eat that day. So in that spirit, I declare “In the battle of woman vs. hostas…” (stay tuned after this weekend for the final outcome!)

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