It was time. All summer long Brinton and I had talked about putting in new flower beds, and now it was the end of August. It was now or never.
Our old flower beds weren’t very pretty. Big leathery old hostas took up two gigantic spaces along our front walkway. Tough looking yellow lilies (the color of traffic paint) filled the spaces in between. A useless variety of hydrangea that dies off every winter and doesn’t bloom in Vermont filled the two other beds. And that was that.
I decided to deal with the hostas first. They seemed easy enough. Lord knows you can’t kill them. My plan was to divide up the huge plants and spread them out.
After a few YouTube videos I felt like an expert. Lily and I filled a kiddie pool with water, just like one of the videos suggested — for washing the dirt off of the roots before transplanting. I grabbed my shovel, Lily grabbed her spade, and we got started.
It only took me a minute to realize that my hostas were not like the hostas in any of the videos. First of all, my hostas were giants. Huge seven year old plants, so big, that it took all my strength to lift up the sides of the plant. The roots so were thick and tangled that pulling them apart with my fingers, or even cutting with a knife was laughable. These hostas were not coming apart without a fight.
I could only approximate what I had seen in the videos. Instead of dipping the plants gently into a pool of nice clean water, or showering them gently with the hose, I heaved and dragged the giant mass into the kiddie pool, amazed to realize that just one plant filled the entire pool.
Instead of loose soil easily coming away in the water, my hostas were laden with years of wood chips. Some of it came out in the water, but honestly, not much.
Instead of gently untangling the roots with my fingers, or slicing the mass of roots just a bit to get it started, I actually took a hacksaw to the plant. I sawed that thing into quarters. It was the only way it was ever going to come apart.
Lily had long since gotten bored and had moved on to picking rocks from the flower bed. Exhausted, I dug four holes — one for each quarter of the original plant.
By the time I was finished replanting, the sun was starting to set, and I still hadn’t even touched the other hosta (or the lilies, or the hydrangea). But it was okay. They would be waiting for me tomorrow. And this time, there would be no surprises. I would know how to attack them right from the start.
P.S. Anybody who is an actual gardener reading this might be cringing at my methods. I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. If you happen to know a better way to divide gigantic, tough old hostas, please do share!