Volume 12 Week 5

Wednesday, July 11


 

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette

Beacon Hill,
Cyrville Ward
Tim Tierney



 

 

 

 

Under-appreciated
plant given elevated
status in Navan


For the past 18 months I have been delivering the paper door to door in Navan and only recently have I noticed the townsfolks’ propensity for a certain type of plant that many people in the ’burbs and elsewhere merely take for granted.

I am speaking, of course, of the genus Funkia – more commonly known as hostas.

You would be hard-pressed to find a house in Navan that didn’t have a hosta plant in their front yard. I’ve been up and down every street in the village and only saw five or six houses without a hosta. Some houses have two or three plants, while others have entire droves of hostas.

One property has 13 different species of hostas. Now, I know what you’re thinking – “There are 13 different species of hostas?” Turns out, there may be as many as 45 different species and over 3,000 different varieties which are the product of hybridization by hosta enthusiasts the world over. Wikipedia lists 24 “accepted” species of the plant which originated in China – God only knows when – and was later transplanted to Japan.

Many of today’s more popular species were brought to Europe by German botan-ist Philipp Franz von Siebold in the early 19th century.

Who knew that the hosta plant had such a rich history? I know I didn’t. I just knew they were the perfect plant to grow in a largely shady area and they’re prettier than ferns which grow much taller.

I was first introduced to the hosta plant when the ex-wife and I bought our first house on Sunnyside Avenue in Rideau Gardens. The street had a yard sale one weekend and a lady from down the street was trying to give hers away.

I couldn’t figure out why at the time and took a couple. Three summers later the hosta plants had become hosta bushes and were threatening to take over my entire garden. That was about the same time our daughter Maggie was born and I let the garden grow over.

Speaking of my daughter, she hates hostas. Not quite sure why. When I told her I was going to buy a couple of hostas to plant under the giant pine tree in the front yard she cringed. And that’s coming from someone who worked at Laporte’s for three summers.

I happen to like hostas, for no other reason than they are difficult to kill. I don’t have the greatest record when it comes to plants and gardening. In fact, I have yet to meet a plant I can’t kill. And it’s not from neglect. No one tries harder to be a proficient gardener than myself. I read the instructions when I buy the plant. I do all the research on the Internet. I follow the advice of people who are much better at it than I am, and still my plants usually end up dying.

I had the same problem with pets when I was a kid. My pet turtle died in three months. My pet budgie in six and none of my goldfish lasted more than a couple of weeks. I began to think I was cursed and gave up ever having a pet, if not for my own conscience than for the sake of all the turtles, goldfish and budgies out there.

Fortunately, I’m doing much better with my cats, all of whom are healthy and vibrant as they were the day I brought them home.

As for my plants... only time will tell.

I’ve replaced two very large and very ugly globe cedars in the front of my landing with a variety of plants suggested by none other than Estelle Laporte herself.

I warned her about my previous misfortunes with gardening and plants and she assured me that all I had to do was water them every couple of days.

I’m not taking any chances with my indoor plants. Instead of opting for a bunch of “live” plants, I bought a bunch of fake ones at Ikea. They look so real they even fooled the cats.

The latter are why I had to buy the fake ones in the first place. The list of indoor plants that are safe for cats is an very short one, limited almost entirely to palms.

I bought a couple of those as well, just to see if they would survive my not so green thumb. As it turns out, the plants should be more worried about the cats than my lack of knowledge. Cats love palms. Especially my Cuban tuxedo cat Havana. He’s already broken off six branches. At this rate the plant will be reduced to little more than a stump in a couple of weeks. But at least I’ll still have my hostas.

Hasta la vista baby!

(If you wish to comment on this or any other View Point column please write to Fred Sherwin at fsherwin@magma.ca)

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