GARY CHURCH: Pachysandra Pete keeps things green

Pachysandra covers the shaded areas of Pete Pascale’s Pulaski Township property.

Pete Pascale of Pulaski Township called and invited me to check out his hostas.

Pete is from Brooklyn, New York, but moved and built his house here in 1974. While talking to Pete, he would not have to tell you where he is from. He still has the accent.

What Pete wanted me to see was the 220 hosta plants that he has growing in his landscape. When he moved here, his mother gave him four pots of three varieties of hostas to take with him. Pete remembered that he would stop and water them at Howard Johnson’s along the way. Pete has never had to buy another hosta.

I never know when I am going to be in a specific area, so when I was close to his house, I stopped in. Pete wasn’t home. Since I was there, I took some photos of his hostas, hoping I wouldn’t get arrested for trespassing. My wife was in the car on look out or, if necessary, to pay my bail.

What really caught my eye in his beautifully landscaped lawn were the three hundred billion pachysandra that he had planted in the shady locations under his trees. I wondered how many landscape employees it took to plant all of them, and if they got it done in one lifetime.

Pachysandra is a short-growing ground cover for shady areas. You usually plant them in a 4-inch deep hole, and about 6- to 12-inch apart. If you pinch them back every year, it encourages the plant to get bushy. You can buy them either bare root or rooted in trays.

I asked Pete, “Who planted all your pachysandra?”

His reply was quite interesting. He said his boss gave him a 6-foot baby pool filled with pachysandra and all the plants he has came from them. The new nickname “Pachysandra Pete” immediately came to my mind. What he did, took a lot of time and work.

Pachysandra enjoys soil on the acidic side. They can be grown under trees, in deep or light shady areas. If you plant them bare root, they should be covered with fresh potting soil. It will take them three years to fill in. Adding peat moss a couple of times a year will also help

Pachysandra Pete said he uses Miracid, a fertilizer for acidic plants, to keep them growing well.

He then asked if I saw his underground watering system, which I did not. He said it is a big deal back in Jersey. In my defense, I usually don’t look under the sod when I’m visiting someone.

I asked, “Who installed it?”

He replied, “I did. I’m a talented guy.”

Pete bought the system at Menards in Warren, Ohio, a place I have yet to visit, but I’ll get there someday. I just hate to go to Warren, because I don’t want to be shown, again, where my wife fell off her bike. They should put a plaque there in her memory.

Pete has been retired since 2002 from Youngstown State University where he taught statistics and research. He said other than his family, working with his students, was the best time of his life.

Since Pete knows research, I should have asked him a question about duck research. My neighbors’ ducks are about the only two things in this world that get genuinely excited when I step out of my back door. The other day, they got so excited, that they came flying to see me. Unfortunately, one of them has not learned the duck braking system yet, and he crashed into my house. He appears to be fine, but I’ve noticed that on the spur of a moment, he gets very angry with my garage, and runs over to attack it.

It’s scary, but I don’t think my garage cares.

Make your space a green space.

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