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Hosta-bilities are endless at Eau Claire couple’s garden

Garden lovers are being invited back into hosta territory.
Published: Jun. 9, 2022 at 8:48 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -As the long Wisconsin winter wanes, it’s time to shift sights to greenery, and lots of it.

“Most of our area here is what you might call ‘dappled shade,’ that’s really perfect for Hostas,” Richard Witt explains.

Karen and Richard Witt over the course of nearly 50 years have cultivated a massive home garden, featuring everything from ferns to allium to well, yes, hostas.

“I thought wow these things really grow well, they landscape well, this is it, this is a new hobby for me,” laughs Richard. “Then I kind of went off the deep end.”

As far as the eye can see, oak trees aside, “...We planted or the birds planted,” laughs Karen Witt.

At the peak of the Witt garden, 14,000 different hosta cultivar resided on the rolling hill home located just south of Eau Claire.

And today? Around 1,000.

“Because if we get a big hosta next to a small hosta, then the big hosta’s crowding out the smaller one,” Richard says. “Usually I save the big one, dig up the little one, pot it up and that’s what I have for sale.”

Printed signs indicate the flourishing varieties, names that include: blue angel, mouse ears, formal attire, the list goes on. Most of which, have yet to hit their stride this year.

A tide of green amounting to one of the Badger State’s largest private hosta gardens, a feat Karen did not have in mind.

“No it certainly wasn’t a goal,” Karen laughs. “But Dick likes to keep extending.”

“That’s me,” retorts Dick. “I want the newest and the latest and the greatest, so I send away for some, I go to hosta conventions, and I try to find some of the niftiest, new creations.”

The tried and true perennials grace an acre-and-a-half of Witt land, “I don’t so much enjoy weeding or all of the work that goes with it but you can’t have one without the other,” laughs Karen.

All in a day’s work, the two say.

For the first time since before the pandemic, Karen and Richard are opening their garden free to the public!

Want to talk Hostas or take a tour? Contact the Witts at wittrm@uwec.edu or call 715-834-0447.

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