by R. Rodgers
About how many different Hosta do you have in your yard – 2, 3, maybe 6? Cheryl Cravino can’t say that. Her secret love affair with Hosta has turned into HostaAmour with 1,108 different varieties of the leafy beauties in her yard! The Pelham resident has been a Windham Garden Club member since 2006. The Windham Garden Club is a powerful, positive force in Windham. The Club is 50+ members of strong women and men who share their passion of gardening with the community in many ways. Cheryl is currently the only non-Windham member, and she’s a keeper! She has consistently donated to the Annual Plant Sale and has allowed overflow plant storage for the Club at her home.
Cheryl’s commitment to the Windham Garden Club and horticulture stems from a long line of gardeners in her family. Her grandmother Myrtle Flynn was the first person known to hybridize water lilies. To hybridize a plant is to cross two different plants to create a third. Her mother had beautiful gardens, and all her sisters have green thumbs too!
After moving into her husband Rick’s childhood home 21 years ago with the challenge of making a garden from scratch in the woodland 1¾ acre property, they set out for what seemed like the impossible. All these years later the gorgeous property has manicured gardens, complete with creative structures and stone walls, designed and built by Cheryl on 1½ acres of their property.
Cheryl’s favorite perennial, of course, is a Hosta, but which one!? She also has the knack for hybridzing plants, creating “H. Matilda Jeanne,” her favorite plant, named after her beloved bulldogs. Mira is her Garden Greeter these days. The friendly bulldog is very polite and welcoming, starting visitors on their search for their “favorite” Hosta!
Cheryl started her elicit love affair with Hosta as a weekend hobby with about 100 varieties of Hosta that she liked to grow and share with family and friends. That has turned into a side business that she does on the weekends after working a 50-hour week as a Marketing and Creative Service Director.
Aside from being a successful entrepreneur, Cheryl is also a Master Gardener. In 2009 she attended a 30+ week program at the UNH Extension, a program that covers everything there is to know about gardening from invasive species to bird movement. The class finished with Cheryl was more than capable to answer the questions on the UNH garden Hot Line. “They would call about literally everything from bugs to zucchini bread recipes!” laughed Cheryl. Part of the program also calls for the student to design, supervise, and execute a major gardening project in the community. Cheryl worked with a Hudson Junior Women’s Group and installed a Butterfly Garden at Benson’s Park. The Butterfly Garden is now well established and has been designated as a Monarch Waystation. By creating and maintaining this garden, she has contributed to the conservation of monarch butterflies and helped with their preservation and the continued spectacular monarch migration.
HostaAmour, a shabby chic garden experience, is now available for you to explore. Cheryl shares her gardens and her “Chic Shed” with the public throughout the summer months on weekends beginning Mother’s Day. Cheryl proves that there is magic in nature and that gardening does make a difference in the world. “My wish is that people would look at the beauty that surrounds them and not take it for granted,” said Cheryl.