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As a horticulture educator (see below), it has been my goal to help people learn about their landscape ornamental plants and how to get the maximum enjoyment from them. Trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals, vines, groundcovers and container growing have been my passion for over 40 years. My interest in computer technology inevitably led to the use of the internet to spread the word about my favorite topics.

In 2000, I purchased the web domain name, PlantsGalore.Com (aka PGC) and started building the website using basic HTML "hand" coding. Fortunately, software programs soon came along to make that process a lot quicker and more standardized. I also took some valuable training in Photoshop.

Anyway, PGC is dedicated to all things related to the home landscape from an ornamental perspective. Although my job required me to learn about vegetables, fruit and lawns, I decided not to cover those in this website.

The graphic menu below lists the units that are included in PGC:

1. PGC eBooks - I have written several eBooks on horticultural topics. Read more about this below.

2. Famous Gardens - Over the decades, I have been fortunate to be able to travel extensively around the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. This section includes photos and commentary on over 225 public gardens that I have visited.

3. Hardscapes Galore - Anything that is not currently alive in a garden is considered hardscape. This unit is devoted to images and text about garden paths, containers, statuary, structures, tools and equipment.

4. Hosta Helper - This is by far our largest unit and is covered in detail below.

5. Hosta Database - We have collected URL's for a huge number of websites related to all aspects of ornamental horticulture.

6. Landscape Plants - Here we have information on thousands of genera and species of ornamental (and many other) types of plants.

7. Plant People - Historical and current leaders in the ornamental plant world are included in this area. A separate section on Hostaphiles includes hybridizers and leaders in that genus.

8. Plant Photos - I have taken tens of thousands of photos of plants over the decades. Wherever I go, if the plant is labeled, I take a picture of it. Each summer for years, I visited trial gardens to take pictures of new cultivars of annuals and perennials.  Trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, vines, native plants and some tropicals are included.

9. Ponds Galore - I love a pond in the backyard. I have constructed ponds at two different locations and kept a detailed photo record of the process from laying out the lines to digging the holes and installing the liners. It also includes some information on landscaping a pond.


What seems like a hundred years ago (but actually 1998), I gave a gardening presentation to the Western Michigan Hosta Society. As a result, I came to know Don Rawson who was president at the time. I was running a website for my Extension office and he had started a small site he named The Hosta Helper. At that time, he was busy doing other things and he asked if I would like to take the site and run with it. The whole thing consisted of images and text for around a hundred hostas. He gave me a three ring binder and some floppy disks and the transfer was made.

I was an avid hosta hobbyist and a computer geek so it made a perfect fit. Since that time, I have built a site which now contains information on over 12,900 hosta names and consists of around 25,000 pages.

In retirement, I have been able to dedicate a large amount of time to The Hosta Helper. I use information from all over the place. Of course the books by Mark Zilis and W. George Schmid have been major resources along with other books on the subject of hostas by other authors. The American Hosta Society, its website and, of course, The Hosta Journal are primary sources. I have attended 15 AHS National Conventions, many local hosta garden tours and have visited several of the AHS Display gardens. In addition, I taught classes at Hosta College several times.

At one time, my garden contained about 500 different named cultivars of hostas. I moved after retirement and have a much smaller garden but still grow around 150 types. Through all this, I have become familiar with many different commercial growers and nurseries specializing in hostas. I have visited what I consider the apex of hosta nurseries, Wade and Gatton Nursery in Ohio several times. This wonderful garden/nursery was operated by a great hosta hybridizer and plantsman, the late Van Wade. They have  over 3,000 hostas in their display beds and even after all these visits I still have not photographed them all.

I use the Internet...a lot! During my search for the most up-to-date information, I have visited thousands of websites ranging from online nuseries to society newsletters to obituaries to the Hosta Registrar's website and on and on. When I find conflicting data, I try to find the "correct" information but I also include the fact that you may run into conflicting or erroneous information about hostas. It seems to come with the territory.

Finally, as you might note while visiting The Hosta Helper, I am also interested in the people who have influenced the hosta world. Wherever possible, I like to include a face and some background information on the hybridizers and "movers and shakers" in the hosta world. Finding the history of a plant or a person helps to bring the whole topic to life.

Through 2018, only hosta images photographed by me were included in the website. I have accumulated over 3,000 hosta photos over the decades but there are many thousand more that are missing. So, I have decided to solicit and accept hosta images from hybridizers and others.

If you see this graphic on a cultivar page and you have an image of that cultivar you would like to share, just click on it and send us an email. The digital image needs to be AT LEAST 650 pixels wide. I am pretty handy with Photoshop so I will crop and adjust the images as needed. Beneath the image on the cultivar page, I will place a graphic giving you credit for the photo. If you like, I can also include a link to a website of your choice.Of course, I will not share images with anyone else without seeking your permission first.

The goal of The Hosta Helper is to provide gardeners with the best and most complete information about plants in the genus, Hosta.  Have fun with yours!

Since retirement, I have been writing some e-books on a variety of landscape horticultural topics. I have titled these as a series called "A Rookie's Guide to..." with the intent of offering basic information for the hobbyist or relatively new gardener.

These ebooks are an accumulation of the major factors important for beginning to understand these large topics. In reality, a person can spend a lifetime as a professional learning all aspects of each subject. Presented here are basic topics and tips for the person just entering these areas of horticulture. They are a good starting point.

So far, I have published the following titles with more in the works. They are available through and in a variety of formats.

Hosta have been the number 1 selling perennial in the U.S. for over a decade. More landscapes are developing mature trees so shade is a factor in planting considerations. This ebook will give you a solid background of information on many aspects of hostas. It discusses the biology of hostas as a plant, where they originate, their history, how they are propagated, factors for selecting the right one for your garden, how to grow them and groups of hosta lovers who will share their knowledge with you.


This ebook is intended for the person who needs an introduction to the design process for backyard landscapes. Whether you do the project yourself or hire someone to make the design, the information in this book will help you. You will not gain the knowledge of a person with a degree in landscape design, of course. But you will learn a handfull of key concepts that will put you ahead of the average gardener. It will also help you understand what a professional designer is proposing for your landscape.

Once you have designed your backyard ornamental garden, it is time to put it into action. This ebook is designed to give you the basics of preparing the site and laying out the elements of the design. There are tips on using various types of hardscape such as paths, statuary and other non-living features.


Ralph Heiden a.k.a. Mr PGC (PlantsGalore.Com), is a Horticulture Educator (i.e. Extension Agent) Emeritus who retired from Michigan State University Extension in 2010. Starting in 1987, I served as the first State Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Michigan. In 1990, I became a County Horticultural Extension Educator.

I have an MS degree in ornamental horticulture and have taught horticulture and gardening classes or seminars on a wide range of topics to thousands of homeowners, hobbyists and Master Gardeners over the past 4 or 5 decades. A large part of my career was spent helping homeowners and others identify and solve problems with their trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, lawns, fruit and vegetables. This included insect, disease and cultural factors that impacted plant health or quality.

One of the joys of my job was the opportunity to travel to other parts of the U.S., Canada and Europe to participate in conferences or horticultural tourism. As a result, I have visited several hundred public and private gardens and accumulated tens of thousands of photos. Many of these are used in the PGC website while others have been sold for use in books, articles and other publications.

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