From the enormous Empress Wu, which can grow to nine feet in diameter, to the Itsy Bitsy Spider, which grows a whopping 2.5” tall, to literally hundreds of varieties in between — all will be on display at Ron Dow’s Belfast Hosta Gallery on Friday, July 25, as part of the Belfast Garden Club’s annual Open Garden series.
“Gallery” is indeed the correct word to describe Dow’s garden. Strolling around his property, one wishes only that there were curatorial notes alongside each specimen because each has a story to tell. Dow knows not only the names of his hostas, but their origins, habits, bloom time, height and color variations.
Dow’s fascination with hostas began in 1986 when he moved to a house with eight hosta plants in the Presque Isle area. Nine years later, when he moved to Belfast (after serving as English professor and humanities department chair at the University of Maine Presque isle), he brought with him 400+ varieties of hostas in pots – which ended up being stored in Ruth Holmes’s backyard until he was able to move them to his new home.
Many of the hostas that Dow grows are for sale. If Open Garden visitors want to buy any, he will mark them as sold and ask that buyers return on another day to complete the purchase, especially because many will need to be dug and potted first. “If you agree to to be on this tour, I think it’s important to be on site as a host. . .to be available to answer questions and point out interesting things about the plants. I can’t do that and sell plants at the same time. But don’t get me wrong — I’m happy to sell plants!”
The Belfast Hosta Gallery is located at 194 Back Belmont Road in Belfast. Take Route 52 out of Belfast and bear right onto Back Belmont Road at the Belfast Variety/Irving station. After crossing Jesse Robbins Road, the garden is .5 mile on the left.
This is the fourth of eight Open Gardens, all of which are on Fridays, rain or shine.
The next is Andrea Whyte’s beautifully landscaped Belfast garden, complete with a custom-built waterfall and fire pit that overlooks the Front Street Shipyard.
All Open Gardens can be visited by purchasing a $25 season pass with 8 garden admissions (available at The Good Table or Brambles on Main St. in Belfast, or at Scallions in Reny’s Plaza, or at Aubuchon Hardware on Rte. 1) or individually by making a $4 donation at each garden. For a complete schedule, visit belfastgardenclub.org or pick up a brochure at numerous retail businesses in and around Belfast. For more information about Open Gardens, call Martha Laitin (948-2815) or email email@example.com.