Friday, July 23, 2010

The Day I Met Van Wade

Mom and I took to the road again, this time heading east to Bellville, OH, to the famed Wade and Gatton's Botanical Gardens and Nurseries.  Home of the hostas. LOTS of them.  I'd heard about this place from Mom several years ago and wanted to visit, but just never seemed to take the time to make the 2½-hour trip.

But sooner or later, we get around to doing those things that are on "the list" and as I sit here thinking about our day, I can't believe I waited so long.  Mom had been there once before and was more than willing to visit again and now I know why.  She went to see the hostas, as did I, but the highlight of our trip wasn't all about the hostas.

As we neared our destination, we were reminded that not all of Ohio is like our glacier-flattened once-swampy corner of the state. Richland County is much, much hillier. It's beautiful, this rolling countryside and we always make comment about that, although we find ourselves giving special consideration to how driving requires a little more caution, what with all the hills and not being able to see as far down the road.

We took the winding drive back to Wade and Gatton Nurseries, parked the car, and immediately began to go in and out of the 20+ hoop houses that held hostas in numbers unlike any we'd ever seen anywhere before. I soon realized that if I saw a hosta I liked, I'd better grab it immediately because I'd likely never be able to find it again.

Hostas are priced by the crown and there are pots that have varying numbers of crowns in them. This could have gotten us in trouble, but an employee explained the specifics of this when he saw us with a pot that had almost more crowns than could easily be counted.  We made our choices, including my one free plant that first-time visitors are allowed to choose.  I purchased 'Snowstorm', 'Rainforest Sunrise', and 'Ft. Knox.'  My free one was 'Kitty Cat', of course.  Cats of all sorts just seem to find their way to our house.

Isn't this miniature hosta awesome? No really, it's 'Awesome'!

There was a bus group that arrived shortly after we did, and don't you know, it was from our area and we knew several of the women in the group!  After they left, Van Wade himself took Mom and me on a tour of the grounds via golf cart, imparting all kinds of information about the history of the property and the gardens.

 The 18-room house was built in the late 1880s

The gardens began in the 1930s when Van Wade's grandmother, Nell, along with two close neighbors, Pearl and Adelia Gatton, planted them. Van and his wife, Shirley, began adding to the gardens in 1983 and continue to enlarge the gardens each year.

The personal tour was the highlight of our day.  Mr. Wade, being the hosta guru that he is, simply loves his hostas and daylilies, and it's evident as he tells his fascinating stories about them.  We zipped around the property in the golf cart, chatting all the while and viewing the unbelievably beautiful displays.

 There are four hostas named for Wade, including a large blue one called 'Van Wade Blue'.  

We were taken up the hill to what was the most enchanting spot on the property.  Nestled in the woods was yet another large collection of hostas and a waterfall that not only captured my attention, but that of a hummingbird that kept darting in and out of the water.

Though it was a very hot day, this Shangri-la was quite cool and peaceful, with only the sounds of the birds and the trickle of the water.

Besides the more than 3000 varieties of hostas, The Wade gardens are also home to over 1500 daylilies.  This was a good time to view the daylilies, as most were in full bloom and for this reason, was a good time to purchase.  I bought a spider type - 'Selma Longlegs'.

 'Selma Longlegs'

'When I Dream', which Mr. Wade gave to me because I admired it so much. Red is my favorite color and I love how the red stamens pop right out of the brilliant yellow center.

I'd heard the Wade Gardens called "hosta heaven" and now that I've been here, I know why.  Anyone who loves this diverse group of plants really should put Wade & Gatton's on their must-see list. And if you're as fortunate as we were, you'll also get to meet and talk with Van and Shirley Wade, too.

Shirley and Van Wade


Kara said...

What a great trip! Thank you for sharing! I'm thinking Michigan isn't toooooo far from OH, I might need to make the trip myself someday.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

What a neat place. How lucky to meet Mr. Wade and get a personal tour of the grounds. I love your daylily choices!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

This place sounds like heaven to me. Do you think it is doeable for us to stop on our way to Ann Arbor? Where is it located?? Love the long legs daylily.

F Cameron said...

What a fabulous garden! Such an inspiring story of how the family gardens have carried on...and that house is amazing, too!

I used to grow so many hostas. We have our "hosta man" in Chapel Hill who I bought from for 20 years before moving in with the deer.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I enjoyed seeing photos of the gardens and the owners. It was fun seeing other bloggers, too.

Joseph said...

Oh my -- I took a trip there when I was living in Columbus. Isn't it amazing? And Mr. Wade is just adorable -- I loved him!

Jeff Branch said...

As a hosta collector, I am jealous. Maybe someday I can drag my wife along for such a trip!

Unknown said...

You win the coveted "Best Picture Blog" and "Best Use of Photography in a blog" awards again! Your posts are always informative and beautiful with your pictures.
Way to go, and thanks!

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