Never promised you a (hosta) garden

There are a lot of Things in our yard.

Green things. Purple things. Weed-like things. Bushes, shrubs, flowering things.

I’ve never had a garden. I’ve never had my own yard. I lived at home until I was 28, and the collective idea of yard work was waking up to the hum of my dad’s lawn mower on Saturday mornings and occasionally ridding a small flower bed of its weeds in the spring. I remember planting impatiens with my mom as a kid, but my interest — and help! — was minimal. Very minimal.

We raked leaves in the fall and blew dandelions in summer, sure, but there wasn’t really work to do out there. My sister and I splashed in a kiddie pool, took friends to swing on our wooden bench and played with dogs in the backyard, but it was — to me — a maintenance-free space. One I took entirely for granted.

Now that we’re responsible for a hunk of the outdoors on our “property” (man, that feels fancy!), I’m learning the care and keeping of a yard is time-consuming. And I have no earthly idea what I’m doing. Since I cower from mosquitoes and bees and generally anything categorized as “creepy-crawly,” my preference isn’t to spend much time out there . . . but we have a big front yard facing our street, and people see our house.

We’re still the new kids on the block — and I can’t get lazy this quickly.

Spence and I haven’t officially selected chores yet, but I’ve naturally fallen into the role of flower-bed-keeper because he cuts the grass, chops down poison ivy (and gets poison ivy . . .) and saws through fallen logs while I have trimmed hedges and pushed hair out of my face. So I guess we’re even? (Kidding.)

I’ve unofficially taken over the task of weeding the rock gardens near our front porch because they’re chaotic and ugly, and it seems relatively simple to solve.

I mean, if you don’t mind sweating.

When my mother- and father-in-law were here to help us move in late June, they kindly tackled our grown-over flower beds before returning home. We had straight-up trees (!) growing near the shrubs, and the weed situation was pretty horrific. Basically, it was a strip of weeds in front of the house — weeds that were choking all the “good” plants that had started to appear in spring, and something had to be done about it.

I did a little maintenance a few weeks ago — the first time the yard needed work since that late-June purge. The shrubs were hacked to nubs back when we first went to see the house in March, and we worried they were all dead . . . but they sprang to life as soon as the snow thawed, and they’ve been growing strong ever since.

It looked like this in winter:

Dead yard

And then, left untended, it looked like this:

And then, with some cursing and sweating, it transformed into this:

. . . For now, anyway!

We have hostas, as you see — a plant I couldn’t have picked out to save my life, but visitors have all exclaimed, “Oh, you have hostas!” And now said hostas have really tall, really weird purple flowers sprouting out of them? And hopefully this is normal?

I’m learning.

I’d like to say I’m making progress toward my green thumb, but that would require me actively caring for a plant . . . as it stands, I merely hack out what I don’t want growing here and hope for the best.

Come spring, I have great ambitions of contracting our yard out to a friend’s wise daughter and actually making some executive decisions about what to do with the ample outdoor space we have languishing here.


For now, I pull weeds from the roots, avoid bugs and wave to Spencer on the lawn mower.

A plan that works for everyone.


27 thoughts on “Never promised you a (hosta) garden

  1. Meg, it is wonderful to see your new garden. It is something I’m sure you’ll grow to love. Gardening is a life time learning project, and can be very satisfying! 🙂


    • Thank you! I have a hunch you’re right. Though I was really tired by the end, it was a very good kind of tired. And so satisfying to see the transformation!


  2. I have one magic word for you…ROUNDUP. Seriously if it is too complicated to get a sprayer and do the adding-concentrate-then-adding-water thing, they make Roundup that is ready to spray. It is a glorious thing. I hate yard work, but I find myself always doing it. It never ends (especially in Florida when the weeds will eat you alive if you let them). Still it is very rewarding to see your flowers and bushes thrive. You guys have done a great job!


    • Oh goodness, Sandy — I can only imagine how the weeds would flourish on humid Florida summer days! Eek. Good call on the Roundup — we actually bought some and sprayed quite a few of the rocks (though far from the bushes). Hoping that will keep the weeds from coming back too quickly!


  3. I have the blackest thumb imaginable, but I love hostas! I planted them four years ago and I’ve almost never touched them since. They sprout purple flowers in summer (totally normal, yes), then die off in winter. Come spring, the little buds pop through the soil, then slowly unfurl their leaves. Easy.


    • I’ve heard good things about hostas, Whitney — and they definitely seem hardy! Very glad to have something fairly maintenance-free in our garden. I like the purple flowers, too — a little color out there!


  4. Tell Spence to be careful with the poison ivy! My mom is the gardner in our family and every year, without fail, she gets poison ivy. It’s gotten to the point where she now has to get prescription help to relieve / cure it, since she’s built up some immunity to over-the-counter fixes. So wash early and often! Good luck with the garden.


    • Thanks, Meredith — will do! He’s gotten it twice already, but thankfully just in small patches. We bought disposable gloves so we don’t have the risk of infection/reinfection each time (we think the ivy on the gloves was what spread to Spencer’s hands last time).


    • Thank you, Gayle — and I hear you. Spence is definitely more passionate about the grass/lawn, but I felt so satisfied looking at our cleared-out flower beds and the full wheelbarrow with weeds last night! Since I sit at a computer all day, it felt good to actually “do” something — and see real results.


  5. Hosta is amazing! And yes, those purple flower spikes are totally normal. We used to have a plush hosta bed at our old house, but the new one is way too sunny (they like shade/filtered light), and we just have a few tucked in a corner. Given breathing room, hosta will eventually spread and fill in plush and green and lovely. During the summer. Totally dies back in the winter. 🙂

    And yeah, I’m the uber girlie-girl who loves puttering in the dirt with flowers and plants — but I do so without getting *dirty*. Sweaty, yes, in the summer. Dirty, notsomuch 😉 There’s something amazing about working the dirt and helping things grow …


    • Thanks so much for this info on hostas — I must confess that I haven’t done much research, but good to know they’ll die and reemerge next spring. I probably would have panicked, thinking I’d killed them . . . that would be my luck!

      And yes, I feel you on not getting dirty — not a fan. But I wore gloves, pulled my hair back and managed not to completely destroy my jeans! I do think we’ll invest in some knee pads soon, though, because all that bending is rough!


  6. I just bought my first house in April, and the previous owner must have been an older gentleman as there was nothing but weeds! I have hosta’s to and they do make everything a little bit better. 🙂


    • Congrats on your home, Allyson! The weeds are definitely out of control, but we’ll get everything straightened out in time. 🙂


  7. Looking good! Hostas are a fantastic plant, and very forgiving if you don’t have a lot of time for gardening.

    A suggestion (and one I wish I found many years sooner) is to sprinkle Preen on the rocks in early spring. Preen stops weed seeds from germinating. It won’t harm your Hostas or shrubs that are already there, and there is an organic version that is safer for kids, pets and wildlife. Seriously, no one can pull all those weeds and stay sane! It stops about three quarters of them. Roundup kills everything it touches. I do use it on my walkways and stone paths but not near good plants or veggies.


    • Thank you so much, Leslie — great tips! I’ll definitely look for Preen and make a note to sprinkle it down next year. We’re already scheming ways to change things up out there next spring — lots we could do as time and money allow!


  8. Hahaha we had hostas in our yard when we first bought our house, too, and every single person that came over commented on them! I am totally clueless when it comes to maintaining a yard so I’m right there with ya! So far, the learning process has been fun – let’s hope it stays that way!


  9. Oh my…there us so much to owning a house…and no one really tells you about it…you sort of have to discover it on your own!


  10. We aren’t very good at gardening but we are trying to get better! It’s a daily battle though. I weeded pretty heavily two weeks ago and they’re already back!


  11. I have hostas around my garage and I love them because they are low maintenance and I do not have to spend a lot of time nurturing them. 🙂 I think they are gorgeous – but I do not have the time at this stage in my life to do anything that requires time and energy 😉


  12. The publisher I worked for in New York had an entire encyclopedia-size book on hostas! I am very much looking forward to having a yard and a garden. It looks like you’re off to a great start!


  13. At least gardening is fairly good exercise! So there’s that. I would not have been able to pick those out as hostas…but I’m impressed that you now can!


  14. “And now said hostas have really tall, really weird purple flowers sprouting out of them? And hopefully this is normal?” I used to collect hostas. I had more than 50 different varieties. My wife thought this was strange. Some collectors go nuts over the blooms which can vary in color, height and can be fragrant. Fortunately I never became that eccentric before my fascination with hostas faded. Nice blog.


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