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Re: new introductions

  • Subject: Re: new introductions
  • From: "Andrew Lietzow" <alietzow@myfamily.com>
  • Date: Sat, 31 Jul 2004 11:37:22 -0500

Ran, Dan, and Open'ers, 

Ran --- RE:>>I'm sticken to my guns "test your new plants throughly before selling them".
Dan --- RE:>>Every ethical introducer does the same.

As a lay geneticist, I am under the impression many new plants should be tested by more than just the originator, with their innately built-in bias.   I see absolutely no harm in introducing a plant early, IF, and that is a big IF, the buyer is made cognizant of what they are purchasing.  IOW, to a small targeted audience of collectors and  investigators, new plants are welcomed.   It's a risk I am willing to take, but these risky ones should NOT be the mass produced units.  Just because a plant shows vigor in the TC lab does not mean it will perform well in the garden.  

The genus takes a hit backwards in "esteem" within the world where 80% of the consumers live, when a truly inferior plant is introduced in such a manner that it gets into the hands of these 80%.   Who am I to judge a plant?   I'm a collector, an investigator, and certainly an above average gardener.  I'm not in this 80%, so I'm a good testor.  

One of the most creatively derived plants that I have seen, and owned, is H. 'Tattoo' (last time I checked, my specimen is hanging onto life by a tiny thread).  This is a patented plant so was felt to be worthy of introduction, and presumably to this 80%.  I imagine it CAN be grown well.  In fact, it came to me growing vigorously, though still a pup.  Unfortunately, though I know fairly well how to grow Hosta, this one is over the top for being challenging.  

I would love to discover the secret on how to grow H. 'Tattoo' for optimal performance.   Because I have the absolute highest regard for Tony Avent and his operation -- I own his book "So you Want to Start a (Mail Order) Nursery", a watershed piece, and am impressed in nearly every way with Tony --  this is not a negative against Tony.  It is a negative against 'Tattoo'.  Something is wrong within the genetic makeup of this plant.  I don't believe there is any way to cure it--it's just not a vigorous plant. So don't condemn the 99% of Tony''s plants which are fabulous growers -- I'm only singling out this extremely challenging one!   

The point is, IMO, Mary Chastain is correct in her statement, which I paraphrase for attendees to our UMHHG meetings, "When in doubt of what your Hosta hybridizing goals should be, choose VIGOR!".   I garnered this early from her writings and I believe it is very wise.   If you want to gain respect in the world of Hosta hybridizing, make sure what you release are vigorous plants, the further above average on that one characteristic the better.  Hosta MUST perform well in an "average" gardener's garden, or the respect for the genus takes a step backward.  I have Heuchera and Tiarellas that are holding up marvelously in my garden right now and that's what we need to see in our new Hosta introductions.  Uniqueness, yes.  But vigor is paramount!  

I suppose this is what Ran and Dan are saying, yet they do so succintly.  My take, however, is, "IF you have something unique, get it out there to the collectors and investigators.  We don't mind paying $50 or $100 for a plant that we later discover is a dud.  That's a risk we are willing to take to be at the bleeding edge.  But the originators, TC labs, wholesalers, and introducers need to take some responsibility to restrict distribution until the plant is tried and proven".  .  

If it's going to be let loose in quantity from the TC labs, and is sold without a "caveat emptor" clause, that's where I think some standards need to be established.  Probably, this in the form of "stamp of approval", "seal of excellence" or a "Collector's Only" label from the Hosta Grower's Association.  The AHS should probably not perform this function.  I think it was talked about more at the grower level than the plant level, and didn't go over too well.   I invite comment.  

With that said, now I'm going to surf on over to the Plant Delights website and see if Tony agrees with my assessment of 'Tattoo'.  Maybe he's still saying it's hardy because he hasn't personally killed it three times.  Maybe I'll post a follow-up, or maybe he'll jump on a jet to DSM to beat the stuffin' out of me.  I might not even be able to type... Lucky you.   

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