Hostas: The Friendship Plant
As we walked to our school playground in Chicago for a summertime game of baseball, we were often attracted to the green and white-striped plants seen in many yards along the way We were not particularly fond of the plant; rather, we knew if we squeezed the bulbous purple flowers on the long stalks above the foliage the flowers would pop with a snap! This was my introduction to hostas, and it would be decades before I once again made their acquaintance.
I recently stopped at Jim’s, an extraordinary hostaphile—lover of hostas—in search of lilacs for my wife’s birthday. He had some along his fence line and gladly offered to get a hand pruner. I have at least 60 or more varieties of hostas tucked in around my house, but I’ve had occasion to buy some from Jim over the years. I asked about one of the newest varieties—White Feathers—and Jim invited me to join him on his golf cart to take a look.
We rounded the corner of his house and I felt I’d just entered a small arboretum as I looked upon smoothly shaped beds of hostas edged with beds of perennials and shrubs. Amongst many smaller varieties was White Feathers, just beginning to green up. This hosta opens for the spring as a white variety, but as time and sun go by it turns green—if not, it could not survive as chlorophyll and the act of photosynthesis are what keep plants alive. As I left, with lilacs in hand, I realized I never had a column about hostas! Though hostas are rugged and can take care of themselves, I’ll offer tips to consider if you want to avoid problems.
Hostas dwell best in the shade, though those with yellow in the foliage can tolerate some sun while those with white burn easiest and blue hostas enjoy more shade. North side locations are best though if hostas are shaded by trees, they’ll grow most anywhere. Hostas thrive in moist, fertile, well-drained soil with a lot of organic matter and not in competition with roots from nearby trees and shrubs. I suggest fertilizing hostas once the eyes have emerged in the early spring. One can use a foliar application of Miracle-Gro© in a hose sprayer or Schultz’s© liquid plant food in water. For a slow release choice, I recommend Osmocote© around the plants once and done.
Individual plants form clumps with many “eyes” that can be divided. Jim refers to hostas as the “friendship plant” due in large part to the fact as the original plant grows on, the divisions can be given to friends to enjoy; indeed, hosta growers are eager to share their plants with others. It’s best to divide hostas in the spring when they send up many eyes—spiky shoots. Dig up the plant and with a sharp knife or spade cut pieces that naturally have some space so small clumps of three to five eyes with roots are formed.
Hostas can be grown by themselves as a display, but there are many companion plants that work well with hostas and that enjoy similar growing conditions. Some of the best choices are the feathery astilbes, many varieties of ferns, and columbine. Japanese sedge, lungwort and various coral bells will bring in more visual contrast and color. Though there are many other plant friends than those listed, there are also enemies.
Live in a woody area? Hostas are a tasty deer salad and Does will munch the leaves of all they can find right to the ground. Regular applications of deer repellent are the only defense and gardeners must be vigilant in reapplying after every rain. There are other critters that hang around hosta beds, including mice and voles, but over my decades of growing hostas, I’ve never encountered a single one. I’d be more inclined to suggest snails and slugs as the real enemies of hostas. These nighttime foragers eat little holes in the leaves and produce slimy trails as they move. Go online to learn about beer traps and other interesting ways to rid hosta beds of unwanted beasties, are key culprits and the best advice is to keep mulch from too near the hosta stems.
I find growing hostas to be an easy task. From just a few varieties in the 1940s and 50s have come hundreds of fascinating hostas in many leave shapes, sizes, and colorations. Worry less about the enemies and use hostas to make garden friends.
Donate Locally to Shelters, Rescues
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I read your recent article on animal shelters. It was spot on with advice for donors. Many rescues do not advertise locally, but online through Petfinder.com and AdoptAPet.com. Local advertising and signs usually result in animals being deposited on a rescue’s property without invitation or contact.
If people want to help, please research your local area and find a rescue. Contact them and see what they need. Most rescues need specific foods, medicines, etc., and always need monetary contributions. These are the best ways to help out, through contact and conversations with the people involved. Local animal control and shelters can use help too.
One of the most important things to remember is that almost all rescues are nonprofit, charitable entities. All donations, money or otherwise, go completely to helping out the animals. There are no “salaries” for the persons running the organization as there are with so many other “charities.” Just research online the salaries paid out with contributions from the public for many common charities that many donate to each year.
Do I speak from experience? Yes. My wife and I have been doing dog rescue for 16 years, ever since she returned home from helping in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina left so many animals needing rescue and help getting back with their families. We have helped close to 1,600 rescues find forever, loving homes. — R.M., SusieQ DogResQ, Inc.
DEAR R.M.: Thank you for this insider info. It confirms that acting locally to help animals, either through donating supplies or money or your time, can have the greatest impact.
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© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Photo Credit: Kovels
It took only $35 to win this lunchbox, a football sports collectible, at a Main Auction Galleries sale in Cincinnati.
Vintage collectibles, especially those related to sports, sell quickly at auction, perhaps because not all are expensive. Sometimes they are not noticed by the dedicated sports collectors and sell at bargain prices. This metal lunchbox was made in 1976. It is decorated with the helmets of the National Football Conference on one side, and American Conference helmets on the other side.
Lunchbox collecting began in 1950, with the first example picturing the cowboy movie star Hopalong Cassidy. The metal boxes and matching thermos bottles remained popular until 1960, when soft plastic boxes were the style. (And it is a myth that metal boxes were replaced because students were hitting each other in the head and causing injuries.) This football collectible included a matching thermos and was an auction bargain at $35. The King-Seely Thermos Company made many metal lunchboxes, including the one with the football helmets.
The most expensive metal lunchbox ever sold pictured “Toppie the Elephant,” a Kroger grocery store figure that promoted plaid Top Value stamps. A 1957 Toppie lunchbox with thermos sold for $2,784.
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On the TV show “Better Call Saul,” the plot included a Hummel figurine that was so rare that it would sell for thousands of dollars. Your comments on Hummels say they are bought for very low prices today, most under $50. Did the show make up the story? Or is there a type of Hummel that sells for over $1,000?
The “Better Call Saul” show was talking about the rarest Hummels, a group called International Figures. The characters talked about the Bulgarian figure, but the real one depicted a Bavarian figure. In 1976, eight were in a sale by Robert Miller, the author of the first Hummel price book and an expert in all things Hummel. He realized they were different from any he owned, so he made for a dealer in Hungary before World War II.
Later research claims that 24 or 26 different designs were made in the 1940s. The figures are marked with the M.I. Hummel signature used from 1935 to 1955 and mold numbers that run consecutively from 806 to 813 and others with numbers up to 968. Each figurine is depicted in its country’s national dress. The thieves in the TV show wanted to steal an ordinary Hummel figurine and redecorate it to look like the famous one that has sold for thousands of dollars. The first sales were at $20,000, but by 2013, the price for the International figure was as low as $5,000.
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Kitchen kettle, copper, straight sides, dovetailed joints, gooseneck spout, hinged shaped handle, stepped lid, 1800s, 9 inches, $75.
Brass lamp, 3 graduated ball knops on stem, round base, electric, Tommi Parzinger for Stiffel, 27 inches, pair, $315.
Advertising playing cards, Schlitz Brewing, Milwaukee, globe logo on back, c. 1900, full deck, box with logo, $520.
Wristwatch, Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, diamond bezel & hour markers, date window, 1974, 34 millimeter case, $2,125.
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TIP: Never put old photos or papers in a “cling” album page.
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© 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.
Beer Can Chicken
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Lawry’s® Seasoned Salt
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 (12 fluid oz) can beer
1 (3-1/2 pound) Plump & Juicy whole chicken from Cremer’s
1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat, about 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix the brown sugar, Lawry’s® Seasoned Salt, garlic salt, salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl. Place the half-full can of beer in the center of a plate.
2. Rinse Plump & Juicy Farm Raised Chicken from Cremer’s under cold running water. Discard giblets and neck from chicken; drain and pat dry. Fit whole chicken over the can of beer with the legs on the bottom; keep upright. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mix into the top cavity of the chicken. The beer may foam up when the seasonings fall inside the can. Rub the remaining seasoning mix over the entire surface of the chicken.
3. Place the chicken, standing on the can, directly on the preheated grill. Close the lid and barbeque the chicken until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 1 hour 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove the chicken from the grill and discard the beer can. Cover the chicken with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.