A Delightful Variety of Shady Plants!
The Schwartz garden was established just a few years ago when Noah and Bonnie moved to Rockford, Michigan along with their four children. Setting out immediately to reshape their forested landscape, they began by removing all but a few of the plants in the beds that were not suited for shade. After only one month in the home, the first of many hostas were planted – some transplanted from their previous home while others were purchased. Then, for the first several years, trees were removed to allow for more sunlight and fewer leaves to rake in the fall.
Noah’s passion for gardening began in high school where a Future Farmers of America (FFA) program was offered. Founded in 1925, this career and technical student organization targets both middle and high school students to promote agricultural education. Attending classes that took place in a small greenhouse on the grounds of the school, students planted and grew crops which were then sold at a local garden center.
After high school, Noah enrolled in the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture where he fell in love with both hostas and daylilies. Soon, he found an interest in hybridizing both. Eventually, he became the head grower for a retailer in New York, and following that, for a grower in New Jersey. Then in 2016, Noah took a position as Director of Growing at a large wholesale greenhouse in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The 2-acre Schwartz garden is comprised of a collection of over 800 named hostas and thousands of hosta seedlings from Noah’s hybridizing program, as well as many different shade companion plants including over 90 varieties of hellebores, many heuchera, tiarella, ferns, and others. Noah performs garden and hardiness trials for several U.S. and European plant breeders. Make sure you don’t miss the Clematis ‘Taiga’. Bred in Japan, the blooms feature a central nest of purple petals tipped in cream against an outer star of rich purple – a real showstopper! The garden also includes many unnamed hosta seedlings from other breeders which are under evaluation.
Noah says all members of the family help contribute to the garden. Bonnie tends her favorite hosta, ‘Goodness Gracious’, which is sited in a prominent spot at the front corner of the house. The kids help spread mulch every spring, the girls help with the plant labels, the boys help with leaf removal and garden cleanup in the fall.
Some of Noah’s favorites include H. ‘Mike’, ‘Fragrant Queen’, ‘Proud Treasure’, ‘Diamond Lake’, and offspring of ‘Empress Wu’ streaked, to name just a few. Noah says, “I have always been a collector and have had only one job (growing plants), which I really enjoy, so for me hybridizing is a natural fit as I can work toward goals that would benefit both collectors as well as large growers that need good genetics to be successful.”
In reflection, Noah says, “I believe the garden has matured in a shorter time than most folks would have imagined – it will be the fifth spring that we have been here in this house. Now, we are excited to show it to visitors during the convention!”