Everyday Gardeners

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Nature’s Bubble Wrap


Every time I walk past the blooming stalks of hostas—especially at this glorious time of year—I can’t help but reach out and pop a few unopened blossoms. They really are nature’s Bubble Wrap. At least that’s what I used to think as child growing up in New Jersey. The turn-of-the-century neighborhood my family lived in was shaded by mature oaks that bore acorns the size of bowling balls , and hostas—along with the ubiquitous Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)—carpeted the front yards, ringed the trees, and lined the driveways up and down Kendrick Road. Most likely, this was handsome Hosta ‘Lancifolia’, but this back before anyone paid much attention to these hardworking perennials. Late in the summer, the strappy hostas send up their slender stalks of funnel-shaped, deep-purple blossoms, and—just before the flowers unfurl their delicate petals—each bud forms a miniature airtight balloon. If you quickly snap one of these buds between your thumb and forefinger, it will release a loud, satisfying pop! My brothers and I would run up and down the street furtively popping hostas blossoms until we were caught in the act. “Stop that,” I can still hear my mother scolding us. “Now those flowers will never bloom.” Go ahead, give it a try. It’s certainly worth sacrificing a few blossoms for a few seconds of bubble-popping fun.

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