Some people tend to overlook the ubiquitous hosta. To the casual observer, it’s green and leafy, and they all look pretty similar.

Look closer, says Kathy Haram, a self-described “hosta-holic” who has 400 different varieties in her back yard.

“It’s been an obsession, I have to say,” said the Eagan Garden Club member. “I’ve been collecting for a while.”

In “Shades of Green,” Haram’s upcoming hosta presentation at Eagan’s Wescott Library on Wednesday, she plans to discuss the wide variety of colors and characteristics of the now more than 8,000 varieties of hostas.

They can be chalky blue or deep gold. The cherry tart hosta has bright red stems, and the “white feather” hosta emerges snow white in the spring before streaking with green.

Some leaves are smaller than a quarter and others bigger than a beach ball. Some leaves look like hearts and others resemble hacksaws.

Haram became hooked on hostas after moving into a home with a tree-filled shady back yard where she couldn’t get grass to grow. Now a longtime member of the Minnesota Hosta Society, she travels to the national convention every year to learn and mingle with other hosta fanatics.

“We all have a common passion for it,” she said. “They are easy, carefree. They require a lot of water. But they don’t require a lot of care. They look good all season.”

Haram is particularly fond of the showstoppers, such as the Empress Wu, which grows to be four feet tall and five to six feet wide. “It’s supposed to be the biggest hosta available right now,” she said.

She also loves the upright leaves of the “Victory” and the Sagae hostas. “They’re my favorite because they’re vase-shaped,” she said. “They are very distinguished ... very stunning in the garden.

During her presentation, she will share some of the most interesting and the most popular plants of the hosta world. She’ll also discuss hosta diseases and cover trends in hybridizing.

Her talk is a presentation of the Eagan Garden Club, which plans monthly events and talks throughout the year. Other topics this year include beekeeping and the “The Exotic Dahlia.”

The garden club, started in the 1950s, is now about 70 members strong, with people from Eagan and surrounding communities.

The club has also been preparing for an annual fundraiser. Next month, on May 11, the club hosts the annual plant sale on the grounds of the charming Holz Farm Park, where they will sell hanging baskets, annuals, vegetables and herbs.

“It’s a lovely setting,” said plant sale co-chair Soni Forsman. “It’s the perfect place to have a plant sale.”

For the sale, each member brings up to a dozen perennials from their own gardens — hostas, coneflowers, lilies, ferns, turtlehead, ginger — which Forsman said helps them thin out their plants and share unique varieties with others at a reasonable price. Garden club members are on hand to answer any gardening questions.

The sale serves as the club’s only fundraiser each year, and profits pay for their educational programs and support gardens at Holz Farm Park, Trapp Farm Park and Wescott Library. The group also makes annual donations to the Minnesota State Horticultural Society and the Eagan Resource Center.

The sale starts at 8:30 a.m., and Forsman said it’s good to arrive early, as plants sell quickly.


Liz Rolfsmeier is a Twin Cities freelance writer.