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A Hosta Plea

  • Subject: A Hosta Plea
  • From: gw1944@vermontel.net (Glen Williams)
  • Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2004 15:16:03 -0500

I have made a plea similar to this one for the past few years.  I have
actually been following my own advice for the last three.  I am getting
good at saying it, and better at living it. It may be idiosyncratic and
specific to my own needs and desires, but what the hell. I will put it out
there one more time.  I sent an earlier version of this to a friend this
morning, so here I go again.

"Kill all the lawyers first!" oops...wrong speech.

There are just too many hostas being introduced each year, too little
serious evaluation, and too many vendors competing for the same dollars. We
are drowning in hostas. Making sense of what is out there in any practical
terms of limited time, space and money is beyond most of us. It's an
unending catalogue of what often looks beautiful, but after a few years
tastes like oatmeal (unsalted or even with sugar).

I am now behind in my yearly fix for hostas by 3 or 4 years and this is a
very good thing. I am not going to be the first on my block to have H. '
Holy Grail' (don't anyone dare ask me what that hosta is!). To a large
degree I am waiting for the dust to settle and critical mass to get behind
some hostas which are going to prove to be new classics. I know I will miss
some beauties, for the shelf life of hostas is now very limited. How long
can retailers carry 50 new hostas from each year in their green houses?
Some will be gone for ever before we even saw them.

 I have so little serious room or time, to cope with another 40 new plants
each year. I am far too busy getting rid of the old ones which have not
lived up to my hopes or my limited skills. OK, I know that this is always
the collector's dilemma and not everyone else's.

It would be foolish to argue that the consumer is not benefiting. So many
wonderful new hostas at reasonable prices. How can this be wrong? Well,
I'll tell you. TOO HOSTAS MANY , TOO SOON , TOO LITTLE EVALUATION, AND TOO
LITTLE MYSTERY OR MYTH TO MAKE THE QUEST WORTHWHILE

 I am now letting a lot of stuff leave my garden. I am paying  much more
attention to my own very simplistic  crosses, and learning to cultivate my
own small treasures. And yet I know that hybridizing may be a dead end too.
TC has changed everything. No complaints. I will continue my amateur
hybridization, not because my own hostas are beautiful
or exceptional, but because there are still a lot of lessons to be
learned in my own garden. I expect to go to First Look this year and take a
few of mine to enter in the competition . Not for fame and fortune, but
simply a human need to get some other people's reactions to what I have
done.  I will not breed hostas to sell. I will end up giving a few things
to friends and asking them not to let them leave their gardens. I wish more
people would do this. I think that we need to have mythical hostas once
again. More H. 'Dorothy Benedicts, more H. 'Embroideries', more H.
''Chirifus', more  H. 'On Stages', more impossible dreams in the world of
hostas. Thank God there is no red hosta YET.

So many hostas are becoming  Walmart hostas. Where
is the mystery and the Quest? :-) Do we need thousands more? Or do we need
fewer that have a history, a story, something that we can connect with.
Something that is not only beautiful to our own eye, but  has a history
worth telling around the campfire as we brag and trade  stories of a time
long ago when..... :-)

I will now go out and shovel snow.....but I feel better.



"Where there's a will there's a won't." Ambrose Bierce
Glen Williams
20 Dewey St.
Springfield , Vermont
05156
Tel: 802-885-2839 

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