‘Hosta Haven’ site of a favorite plant

Lorraine Williams didn’t get her nickname, “The Hosta Lady,” by growing roses.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Lorraine Williams didn’t get her nickname, “The Hosta Lady,” by growing roses.

As most of the people slowing down as they pass her property on the Mountain Road recognize, those plants carefully laid out around her yard are hostas. If they don’t know their flora, the little sign at the driveway says, “Hosta Haven.”

The hostas, in 63 varieties and countless individual plants, line her driveway, her walkways and grow in separate gardens and borders about the heavily shaded home. Williams and her husband, the Rev. Dr. R.W. Williams, a retired Methodist minister who serves as pastor at Mountain Valley Hospice in Gloversville, have lived there for two decades.

Lorraine Williams is a very enthusiastic person, but when she begins talking about her hostas the word enthusiasm does not do justice to her mood.

She points out one of her more exotic varieties, Mostly Ghostly. When it first comes up it is pure white. The color green eventually encroaches to some extent, but the more shade, the more white it stays, Williams explains.

She moves through her gardens, pointing out the varieties: Love Pet, Octopus, Tea and Crumpets, Frances William, Regal, Praying Hands, Remember Me, Guardian Angels. Her favorite is Frances William, but the most expensive hosta she owns is Tea and Crumpets. She paid $65 for one tiny sprig.

“I go all over the place and search them out,” she said of her continuing mission to locate nurseries handling varieties she wants.

Hostas are her favorite plant, she said, because “they are so adaptable and forgiving.”

She nurtures and protects them. Her first task in the morning is a complete garden patrol for slugs. She collects them in a can and then hikes back into the woods behind her house to let them go. “I’m going to gross you out,” she said, showing her visitors a can full of slugs.

“I don’t have the heart to kill them … I believe everything has a life,” she said.

But, she adds, the slugs are “the hostas’ nemesis.” She points out the pin holes in the leaves where slugs were dining.

“They say, ‘slow as a slug,’ but I see them trucking across the yard,” Williams said.

Williams does not sell her plants, but as she divides them each spring, she gives away the surplus to friends. She never throws any into a mulch pile, noting how she saves and pots every root. “Thank you very much,” she says, as if speaking for each rescued root.

When she finds no takers, the extra plants go back in the ground behind her house in what she calls her, “I don’t know where to put garden.”

August is Williams’ favorite month. All her hostas are in bloom, waves of blue and white bells. The hummingbirds are plentiful then, Williams said, buzzing close by on all sides.

In the fall, she said, the hostas turn golden. “It’s just exquisite,” she said.

Her plants tend to resist the first frost of the fall, but succumb to the second. “And then they’re gone,” she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice.

Winter comes and she begins to plan for the coming spring. “I’ve got all these things spinning in my head,” she said.

Williams is trying to arrange a connection to her hostas even after she has gardened her last.

“I told my kids, when I’m gone the only thing I want on my grave is a hosta. It will come up every year,” she said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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