SUBMITTED PHOTO
Natalie Holty’s garden features a variety of hostas, a fern and a few other flowers.
SUBMITTED PHOTO Natalie Holty’s garden features a variety of hostas, a fern and a few other flowers.
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 The art of gardening can either be satisfying or overwhelming. It’s finding a happy medium that’s key.

For one Spring Grove resident, the satisfaction is found in hostas, ferns and sprucing up areas around the house.

Natalie Holty’s interest in gardening was sparked when she took a biology class in college.

“We learned about plants and how complex and amazing they are,” she recalled. “It just made me want to go home and garden.”

She decided to spruce up an area at the bottom of a small hill behind her family’s house. A few years earlier, they re-landscaped it, putting in two brick retaining walls with a terrace between the walls.

Before the project, they only had a wall with a board on top, but it didn’t hold very well.

“It was a big ‘We need to do this project,’” Holty said. “We talked about it for years, just not knowing what to do.”

Holty attributes herself as the “small driving force” for helping her parents start the project. They also wanted to have it finished before Holty’s high school graduation in 2012.

They wanted to keep that as low maintenance as possible. They put in sod and then covered the top with a gravel bed. 

The project took about two months in the fall of 2011. Holty’s uncle and some hired hands helped with the wall. Holty and her parents and brother did the dirt work.

There was still one area next to the end of the wall that needed some sprucing up though, so Holty planted hostas.

“Hostas work well in a variety of conditions and lighting,” she said. “They are amazing plants.”

The soil near the hill is mostly sand because it’s a limestone hill with moss. Part of it used to be Holty and her brother’s sand box.

Holty now has about 19 different varieties of hostas ranging from four inches tall to 38 inches. She also has a few ferns, a clematis plant and one primrose plant.

Some of the hostas came to Holty by way of her cousin, who is part of a hosta society. A hosta society is a gift-giving group that trades hostas.

“I planted them around my garden and they have all done pretty well,” she said. “It’s in a really shady area. Hostas are known for their shade tolerance.”

Holty said different hosta varieties also come in different colors, shapes and sizes, which make them appealing to gardeners.

There are hostas with white leaves, chartreuse blue, light green and some are striped or variegated. 

Their different sizes make it easy to fit them in different spots in a garden.

“It gives me something to do and it feels productive,” Holty said. “I like sprucing up an area and feeling satisfied about it.”

Holty also has a few flower gardens surrounding her family’s house. This year, she wants to add more flowers that give a “cottage” feel. 

Holty’s advice for people wanting to start their own garden is to “start small.”

“Really small,” she added. “It grows quickly and the weeds do too.”

It’s also important to know your lighting conditions, because some plants do not bloom in certain lights.

For re-landscaping projects, her advice is to find someone who knows what to do and make sure they understand your vision.

It might also be a good to idea to keep it as low maintenance as possible.

“It always turns out to be more than you can handle or what you’re willing to put in,” Holty said.

And when gardening gets overwhelming or the weeds launch a full-scale attack, Holty advised taking a break or walking through another garden that isn’t as messy or full of weeds. 

Walking through greenhouses is also a good idea.

“Everything is neat and tidy,” she said. “You can also get ideas for next year.”

As for her hosta garden, it’s just about finished. The only thing left to do is continue maintaining it and combat the weeds.