Hosta By Kelley

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The Saga of the Blue Mammoth

Part 1


   Before reading the reader must understand that Blue Mammoth hosta can grow up to 3 feet tall and out to 8 feet in diameter.  "How's the Blue Mammoth?" has become the running 'joke' around here each spring ... and the following will help to explain why:


It began in 2011 ...

In 2011 I said to my mother "Could you see if Kelley & Kelley (the family nursery) has EITHER T-Rex or Blue Mammoth.  Two weeks later she swings by with BOTH.  I had presumed she knew the size that each gets. SO anyway ... I politely accept both and rearrange my garden for both knowing neither will grow to their full size in this garden - not to say even one would to begin with.


Spring 2012 comes around ...

   I look around at my garden and there is T-Rex being polite and small (as it ought to be at that point for a immature hosta plant).  And the other hosta come up, but there is no Blue Mammoth ... . Now I know I am not that bad of a gardener, and I know I planted each the same way.  So I say to myself ... "Maybe it needs company ..." and so I go out and purchase not one, but TWO Blue Mammoths.  A few weeks later they come (along with some other replacement Hosta for that year.  I proceed to plant them and during the process of planting I look UP through leaves to the sky.  The immensity of this hosta size begins to sink into me first hand.  "Oh my word! What have I gotten myself into!"  I know I have other plants to deal with so I don't stop for long to take in the full possible implications.  As the summer passes six leaves come up for Blue Mammoth during the season so I assume everything was going acceptably well with them, and surely next year I'll get this herd of Blue Mammoths to start.


The Winter of 2012 comes and goes as well … and spring 2013 arrives ...

Once again I look around and see other hosta up - yes T-Rex is there  (and still small - but again that is still ok at this point) but again NO Blue Mammoth - NOT even a root system remains in the ground.  So at this point I am really stumped as to why this is happening (In fact I pulled Dixie Chickadee through and historically mini-hosta are the hardest hosta for me to grow). So ...  holding my breath I say, "If two don't do it ... let's try ... THREE!  There has got to be a one out of three chance of one of them coming up."

Now between ordering these plants and their delivery my family has one of it's extremely rare family reunions for the branch of the family that manages K&K Nursery. So I recount the previous events to my cousin three times removed on my fathers side who manages the place (and his wife).  He is just as stumped as I am.  He says 'keep in touch' which suggests he has some interest in this saga and the where this event is leading to for NEXT spring.  His wife, who is also a professional gardener, also understands the desire to simply GROW a specific plant.

At this point I was also quietly reminded to all these events I had sent to three persons (S.I. in NH, B.E. in central MN, and my mother) each a Blue Mammoth Hosta some years ago.  B.E.'s plant was in her own words 'Murdered by a deer!'; but when the time comes she wants to try another one.  S.I. also planted her's when it arrived and this year she announced that it has grown to FIVE feet in height.  Remember what I said about Blue Mammoth dimensions as they are only supposed to grow three (3) feet tall; the tallest hosta known is 4 feet tall.  Whatever she's doing to it is right; and I have no reason to believe she's bluffing about her plant.  My mother's has kept hers small as she prefers to keep small constrained hosta; but deer are also a battle at her place.  Mind you there's nothing wrong with that type of gardening.

So if two of my friends can grow Blue Mammoth - then why can't I?

For the winter of 2013 I am planning on taking one extra precaution for all 11 of my newly planted Hosta this year.  I am planning on putting them to bed with straw and a burlap/jute blanket.  We'll see if that helps any … I am totally expecting someone to ask next spring, "Hows the Blue Mammoth …?"


The 2014 Season is half way over (late July).

   Received another Blue Mammoth (early June) from my mom.  As I was planting the new one I looked for the rhizome cluster from last year for this years growth bud.  It was found, seemed healthy, and looked as though it had wanted to send a spike up.  I planted the new one. and quickly replanted the rhizome cluster of last years.   The new plant which had been brought by my mother has blossomed, flowered, and faded; but the replanted rhizome cluster never sent anything up.  I came close this year, but not close enough. One has to see 'the green of it's eyes' to make it count!

   A second Blue Mammoth arrived September 30th as a gift; this clump of Blue Mammoth has three divisions to it so by coincidence as this is the forth year for me to try and I have four divisions of Blue Mammoth ... .  I have placed a tomato cage around both Mammoths as the second one is much taller than the first.  After 14 days this second one has so far not wilted or drooped from being planted.  The plant is still standing tall and I am hoping that this condition will lead to its survival over the winter.  Many of the leaves are standing on their own!

 As I have a new plants (yet again) maybe I'll get leaves ... next year (2015 ... sigh).


Winter of 2014 and 2015

The Saga of the Blue Mammoth for 2014 does not end there!  It continued with the series called "The Blue Mayhem Project" where I attemped to grow Blue Mammoth from  seed inside during the winter of 2014 amd 2015.    While the experimant started off on a good footing I soon found that the lighting I had ordered for the project was faulty - and so that project failed due to lack of lighting.


Spring has come (2015)

I await once again to see if the last years Blue Mammoth grows!  It is about 4 weeks before the plant growth begins this year; it's March 14th.  The eternal optimist arises within me – yet again.

March 5th The saga has struck twice more as I (and my roommate) finally begin to attempt to assemble the LED lights to be hung above the Blue Mammoth seed as they grow.  We find that there is ONE piece missing. I'll work this out yet; and get those Blue Mammoths to grow yet.  The piece was received, and the lights were readied.  I re-examined the conditions for the growing and realized that lamps themselves heated to nearly 120°F / 48.89°C.  While the grow tent could very likily handle the heat; hosta seedings may not.  So I began the hunt for a fan that would match the size of the grow tent (2 ft. x 2ft. x 2 ft.; or more simply 8 cubic feet).  To date this aspect of the problem has still to be resolved.  A side note there was also the issue that I did not want to come close to a building fire; so that fan becomes a paramount element to the overall indoor project.


[post amended from this point forward in May 2017]

The Blue Mammoth out side never came up that season.  And by early fall I began to ask others about this peculiar situation.  There was a passing suggestion that maybe I was fighting ... moles.  The garden itself had no direct or outwards signs of borrowing from underneath.  The garden is seperated by at least 6 feet of space from any lawn, and 3 feet of space from any adjacent garden.  For a mole to find this place they would nearly have to waddle to the garden and dig down from there.  There had never been any signs of digging from above prior.  But I had to admit that there were 4 other hosta that had not come up that season.


It's still 2015: But real strange things happen at this point:

But I held my breath and said ok ... let's take a look.  The raised garden is open bottom, and theoretically it could be found from below by a critter.  Possible.  So late fall I go out to dig up line between Gorgon and Sum and Substance.  To my own surprise there is in fact tunnel underneath!  NOW had I done it correctly I would have waited for my roommate to come home, and we would have tried to photograph it; but instead I quietly close it up took note of my findings.


Winter and Spring 2016 Comes:

I notify the management of the building of the problem late winter; they agreed to bring out a exerminator to consider the problem.  I meet with the exterminator also during late winter to explain what was seen. and what is believed.

April comes around and management brings the exerminator by again.  I dig the point that had been dug previously ... only to find .... nothing!  No hole, no indication of back filling, NOTHING,  Talk about total and utter embarrassment (even to this date in 2017; I really should have had that photograph.).

I sit the summer out, and carefully consider the different elements that have brought me to this point.  I realize that the only plant that's been there neaerly the same length of time is ... Sum and Substance.  BUT was it possible for a HOSTA would drive another HOSTA out?  Trees do it by emitting particular enzimes that prevent plant growth under the growth zone of the tree.  Some tree roots do this too but on a smaller scale.  I take the hypothosis back to the gardening forum where the suggestion of the mole came up.  They said probably not even likily.  I recount to them the elements of the sutuation:

  1. The drainage;
  2. The roof line and extra water;
  3. The fact that other hosta ON THAT water line seem to do fine;
  4. Sun and Shade balance;
  5. The random occurrence of hosta not coming up in the whole of the garden where Blue Mammoth is the consistant one NOT returning;
  6. Fertilizer.

The forum still does not believe me.  I even quote one of my most favorite quotes from TWO science fiction characters: "If you remove all that is known, and no matter what is left, no matter how implausible it might be - that is the solution!"  And in this case all the factors said that Sum and Substance is/was being hostile to Blue Mammoth.  During Fall of 2016 I remove seven (7) hosta from the raised bed; including Sum and Substance, and put into that place Empress Wu; and planted in the place of Blue Mammoth I put First Blush, and White Feather.


Spring 2017 Comes:

Spring arrives to the garden ... by the end of April all but one hosta has spiked!  First Blush came up.  White Feather came up.  I will be honest with the readership BOTH of these had problems emergeing, but they are both coming around and doing very well.  While being slow about the spiking and emerging Empress Wu also arrives on the scene roaring to go.


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While this might sound like the end of the Saga of the Blue Mammoth - it is not!  The next segments of this saga will be entitled:

The Blue Mayhem Project: Part II where Blue Mammoth seed is attempted again.

The Saga of the Blue Mammoth: Part II where Blue Mammoth is attempted once more.


NOW if I could just get ... Popcorn ... to pop!  I've done that before ...


Plant Name Menu Codes:

In Gardner's collection:  green.

In Collection but is an unregistered sport: BLUE.

Past Plants that are no longer in the collection: Brown.

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