Oops I missed this one, sorry.
1) I use vsthost.exe by Hermann Seib. You can also try his SavyHost that hosts only one plugin at the time.
2) Not that I know of. I know there are a few Host developers that use VST.NET but I dont know about a complete source code example. Hermann's vsthost has an open source (of an older version) in C++.
I recently tried to setup an example using some open source library but it is a lot of work and I was not doing a good job to get everything to work together. Scan through this discussion list and you'll find some (references to) code samples for hosts.
We should be able to get the samples running, if you post more details on your compile problems.