Hostas are versatile, hardy and low-maintenance, and they thrive in full or filtered shade.

• Plant in rich soil with good drainage. Kathy's property has heavy dark clay, so she amends it with compost.

• Japanese painted ferns, coral bells and astilbe are some favorite hosta companion plants. "Add impatiens and begonias for splashes of color," she said.

• When designing hosta beds, create contrast between variegated foliage and shades of greens, blues, yellows and creams for visual interest.

• Kathy planted many of her hosta under pine trees, where the acidic pine needles help fertilize the soil.

• Hostas require regular watering. "Do a good soaking before the ground freezes to establish the roots," she said.

• It's easiest to divide hostas in the spring when they are small.

• Be willing to move plants when they are overcrowded or lack the right exposure. "The light is ever-changing," she said.

• For pest control, consider raising chickens, like Kathy. They love to snack on slugs that can invade hostas.