Recently Jim gave GGC members an exclusive tour of his gardens made up of 650 varieties of hostas plus many companion plants. The three hours flew by as we wandered through his charming grounds while Jim told us funny anecdotes and gave us inside information and tips like using cut up leaves instead of expensive mulch to keep the soil moist and discourage weeds.
I learned that Jim is an artist who uses water colors to paint lovely flowers and scenery. Not surprisingly, Jim uses his artistic talent to balance the colors and textures in his gardens, often adding a piece of statuary or wood to delightful effect.
One of my favorites is a petite hosta garden that is guarded by a crouching cat. Jim drilled holes in an old, mossy log and populated it with various types of tiny hostas. Another favorite is a piece of wood which looked so much like a whale Jim mounted it on his art studio and used a hosta plant for the blow hole.
Jim has an incredible breadth of knowledge about his gardens. Much of what he told us is based on his own experiments and years of experience. To demonstrate how to split hostas, Jim dug one up, showed us where to cut and used a saw to neatly create multiple hosta plants which he then gave away to his appreciative audience. Mine, without the dirt, is in a vase on my dining room table—another of his suggestions.
Jim involved the group in an activity to design a hosta garden with people moving potted hostas of different colors, markings, and sizes. One of his secrets to his healthy garden is the soil which he enriches with compost. When he showed us his 3-step compost area, he dug out of handful of cut grass from the middle of the compost pile and asked me to touch it. I jumped when I felt how hot it was. All that material was really cooking.
At the end of the tour, Jim offered us potted plants for sale but also gave anyone interested the opportunity to dig up plants from a large garden plot with even more varieties. I grabbed a shovel and dug in. This was an up-close-and personal, get-your-hands-dirty experience. Great fun!
If I tried to tell you all I learned from Jim, it would lose a lot in translation, but there's the option to see for yourself. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for a visit.