When people in the Upstate wanted a hosta plant, they always went to Charles "Chuck" Plemmons of Plemmons Greenhouses, at 275 S. Blackstock Road, Spartanburg. The greenhouses were started by William and Shelby Plemmons in 1963. Their son Chuck Plemmons died in April at age 45. He will be remembered as one of the best plantsman around.

The elder Plemmons says at age 6, Chuck would dig up wild violets and plant them in old pots. Later, his son grew "sweet William" and sold them. Chuck was allowed to keep the proceeds for spending money. And he grew sweet potatoes at the greenhouse. The family put vegetables out on a table with a box for payment. Customers bought the vegetables and the business grew.

When Chuck was 11 or 12, his mother, Shelby, taught him how to do root cuttings. He caught on very quickly and learned to root anything that could be rooted. He became an expert at this lost art. Chuck used to say one of his favorite memories was of the time he spent with his mother in the greenhouse rooting things.

Everything changed for Chuck when he spotted his first hosta "albo marginata" and simply fell in love with the plant group. As time passed Chuck would work at night in the greenhouse propagating his plants when he could focus without interruption. Chuck’s wife, Kim, became more involved with daily business at the nursery. She also went to school and became a certified master gardener. Now when you drop in at the nursery you will find her running it.

Chuck was a self-taught plantsman. His knowledge of hostas was unsurpassed. He worked hard propagating his hostas, eventually creating a hosta called “Newberry Gold.” He loved the corrugated and puckered leaves on hostas. "Chief Sitting Bull" was among his favorite hosta plants.

Chuck would light up when he talked about the plant group and became affectionately known as "The Hostaman." When Chuck and Kim would give talks to groups about hosta plants, Chuck could talk about them all night.

Garden designer Dianne Nodine says, “Chuck Plemmons was a brilliant plantsman. He was always ahead with new plants. I consider Plemmons nursery to be a treasure. I miss his friendship and his sharing of his plant knowledge. I know that Kim is making Chuck proud, as she is right in his footsteps.”

Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve is adding a new section to the Robert Odom Hosta Garden that will have some of Chuck's favorite hostas in it. For more information, call Robin Volmer at Hatcher Gardens in Spartanburg.

Kim Plemmons says that their children, Dakota and Savannah are doing a great job helping her with the business. She could not do it without their support. Kim says there are four words that describe her husband: Honorable, compassionate, intelligent, and creative. Most customers of Plemmons Greenhouses would agree with that. Chuck poured himself into his online plant catalog at www.hostaman.com, where he listed his hostas and perennials that are available. You can order online, but the plants are picked up at the greenhouses.

A Plemmons College Education Trust has been set up at SunTrust Bank, 350 E. Henry St., Spartanburg, SC 29302. Donations can be made to that address.

Linda Cobb is a master gardener who lectures, teaches, and does garden design in South Carolina. She can be reached at 864-574-8493 or email her at lindacobb@charter.net. Visit her website at www.mygardenersguide.com