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 3 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.

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.

The images of thousands of species and cultivars of landscape and native plants are available as part of my Landscape Plants section of the PlantsGalore.com website. Images by genus and species are in a Plant Photo Library.

Other units of the PGC website include Famous Gardens - Hardscapes Galore - Plant People and  Ponds Galore.

By far, the largest unit of PGC is The Hosta Helper.


 

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 11,000 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 14 AHS National Conventions, many local hosta garden tours and have visited several of the AHS Display gardens.

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 Rookie's Guide to..." with the intent of offering basic information for the hobbyist or relatively new gardener.

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

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