It is a peaceful garden. It starts right at the curb. You step onto the welcoming sound of a pea gravel path. The crunch-crunch underfoot bids you come to the quiet and slows you down. No doubt you will smile and sigh. Someone probably told you that you have to see Enzo Floreani’s hosta garden in New Sudbury. And here you are.
You see multiple greens, deep purples and blue-greys. The green ranges from the dark blue-greens of the Hosta sieboldiana “Elegans” to the creamy yellow-greens in the variegated Hosta “Gold Standard.”
Looking closely, you realize the leaves are not all the same shape. Yes, they have that common plantain leaf, but there the similarity ends. You admire it for the shape, form and size. Crinkled, cupped and puckered come to mind. You notice that even the poise of the leaf may be different. Most are pendant but some stand more vase-like as with the “Krossa Regal.” There is more here than just green leaves.
Floreani will surprise you with the variety of sizes of his hosta. From the largest “Sum and Substance” to the “Tiny Tears,” the latter the size of a fingernail, you will find them in his garden.
He now has about 70 varieties on display and more than 200 plants. He is an avid but non-competitive collector. You will note too, that some of his hostas are grown in full sun. At this latitude, if kept well watered, some varieties will flourish.
One of the things you will like about this garden may be subconscious. You may not even realize it until you talk about your visit with friends. Then it dawns on you that the garden is so neat and tidy. His edges are “sharp.” There are no weeds.
In other perennials, Floreani leans to the uncommon. He likes unique plants that fit well in his garden schema. Some deep-purple-leafed Widow Cranesbill (Geranium phaeum “Samobor”) come to mind. The medium-sized leaves are splashed with gray-black blotches. False Indigo (Baptisia “Purple Smoke”) is also a specimen plant.
Grasses too, bring different shape to the garden outline and add movement more than most plants. Floreani is still experimenting with these.
He talks expressively about the effect on Miscanthus “Morning Light” when the morning sun illumines it. He assures that the grass is aptly named.
Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra “Aureola” (hak-on-eh-KLO-ah MAK-rah) is another fine grass. It is rated as a zone 5-9 plant, but Floreani has been able to push it to grow, not just exist, here in Sudbury.
His favourite plant is Cimicifuga “Hillside Black Beauty” (sim-ih-sih-FEW-gah) because “it does not spread, does not have to be moved, never takes over the area, no staking required, does not need splitting, has a wonderful smell-like grape juice. It is five feet of beauty.”
Floreani has created some of his own garden ornaments. He began experimenting, then gave classes in making hypertufa art and plant containers. The painted rhubarb leaf is a garden centre-piece. The hypertufa mushrooms are growing their own culture of moss.
For Floreani the challenge is “to make the garden look nice and different.” This makes him feel good, feel happy.
He says he prefers eight hours of gardening to eight hours on the golf course-and he likes golfing!
Those that know him would say that he is probably really happiest when he is in dialogue with others about gardening. It is a peaceful garden because it is tended by a gentle big man who loves sharing his passion with his garden guests. And now you are one of them.