Why hosting? The Hosta Conference is coming to Rochester – Post Bulletin

Why hosting?  The Hosta Conference is coming to Rochester – Post Bulletin

PRESTON, Minn. — Cindy Tomaszyk's gardens on her property near Preston feature plants of a variety of shapes, colors, sizes and textures.

It has broad leaves and thin leaves. Smooth or lacy leaves in colors of dark green, blue, gold and even some hints of purple creep up the textured leaves.

And that's just her flight attendants.

Stewardesses have an undeserved reputation as boring, Tomashek says.

Well, maybe not completely undeserved.

The ubiquitous varieties planted by millennial grandparents 60 or 70 years ago have given rise to generations of uninformed gardeners hostile to the humble host.

“Most of them are frankly boring,” Tomaszyk said.

Cindy Tomashek's gardens at her home near Preston include a “waterslide” host.
Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin

Tomashek, who in 2005 founded the Shades of Green Hosta Association of hosta growers in southeastern Minnesota, is helping coordinate the 2023 Midwest Regional Hosta Conference, which will be held in Rochester July 13-15 at the Best Western.

Some events including vendor booths and show hosts are open to the public, Tomaszyk said. Vendors usually bring supplies meant to wow host enthusiasts, not to mention host agnostics.

“This is where you will find varieties that will blow their minds,” she said.

Rochester last hosted the conference in 2012.

Flight attendant Cindy Tomashek

“Ruby Rings” host at one of Cindy Tomaszyk's gardens Thursday, July 6, 2023, near Preston.
Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin

Hundreds of hosta enthusiasts and growers are expected to attend the conference. Tomaszyk will be a hostess holding the conference's opening picnic in her garden near Preston, Minnesota, where she grows dozens of hosta varieties.

Despite its established reputation, it was the variety of different varieties the plant has that attracted Tomaszyk to the hosts. I witnessed the plant covering areas with dense, colorful foliage while touring the garden of former Minnesota Sen. Nancy Pratas' home in Rochester sometime in the mid-1980s.

“I left there inspired,” she said. “From that point on, I started looking for every group I could get my hands on.”

Some varieties she had a hand in creating.

She grows “sport” for some of the hostas she grows. A sport is a shoot of a plant different from the original and can often be propagated into an entire plant. One of the sports I popularized is now on the market and sold through some greenhouses and garden shops.

Minnesota is actually home to several active hosta hybrids, she said.

Flight attendant Cindy Tomashek

The 'Silly Nematode' hosta is a fun variety of the plant. This one was found in one of Cindy Tomaszyk's gardens near Preston.
Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin

Some of those varieties developed by the state of Minnesota are displayed in its gardens.

For Tomasek, there's always room for more.

“It's dangerous to have a lot of space when you have a passion for gardening,” she said.

What: 2023 Midwest Regional Hosta Agreement.

when: July 13-15, 2023.

where: Best Western Hotel, 1517 16th Street SW.

Flight attendant Cindy Tomashek

Broadleaf hosta 'Mariachi' planted by Cindy Tomaszyk.

Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin

Flight attendant Cindy Tomashek

Hosta 'Quicksand'.

Joe Ahlquist/Post Bulletin

John Molseed

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he got paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about artists and musicians in southeastern Minnesota, he's either picking up the banjo, brewing beer, biking, or pursuing other hobbies that begin with the letter “B.” Readers can contact John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.

    (tags for translation)2023 Midwest Regional Hosta Convention

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