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Re: Why Grow Other's Seeds? / Junk Hostas

  • Subject: Re: Why Grow Other's Seeds? / Junk Hostas
  • From: "Bill Meyer" njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Mon, 6 Jan 2003 11:58:45 -0500

Hi Chick,
        Hank put together a pretty good list of bad ones. There are more
drawstring plants like 'Creme de Menth' and 'Exotic Frances Williams' and
'Winning Edge', and more "burners" like 'Queen of Islip' and 'Dupage
Delight', and more "probably will never grow into a clump even if you live
100 years" types like 'Snow Cap' and 'Blessings' and 'May T Watts'. Then
there are the ordinary solid-color TC culls from variegated plants that get
fancy names and descriptions instead of going into the trash. As you know
there are plenty of hostas out there that pretty much stink as garden plants
and that ordinary gardeners will come to regret buying if they do.
        I think part of Ray's point is that nurseries don't bother to
mention that there are problems with a particular plant. Nurseries have a
language all their own called "Catalog Description", which is similar to
English but not quite the same, and this causes a lot of confusion for those
who haven't taken a course in comparative commercial languages. For
example -- noxious invasive weeds that you will fight a never-ending yearly
battle to eliminate (like Houtuynia) in your yard are described in
nursery-speak as "Carefree" and "Easy to establish" and "Great for those
'trouble spots'". Plants that will never grow in your area no matter what
you do (like Lewisias) are described as "Needs the right spot" and "Don't
let this one dry out" and a "plant for that special place". Biennials
already in their second year and fated to bloom once and die are described
as "Short-lived perennials" with advice to "allow to reseed for continuing
display". Then there are the various sales promotions aimed at clearing out
an overstock of some plant they bought too many of and nobody is buying
which can result in some remarkable descriptions too.
         Catalog Description is the language of a happy fantasy world where
nothing bad is ever said about a plant. In this fantasy world no plant ever
has any bad traits or problems - it only has positive traits. It's like some
wacky psychological self-improvement course gone haywire. I suppose you
could be sued for slander if you ever accused a plant of something bad.
         Some might see these practices as dishonest, mainly because they
havent learned to translate "Catalog Description" into English. Rather than
the nurseries stopping the sale of bad plants, which they aren't really ever
going to do, what we all would like to see is a translation guide to figure
out what a plant really is by reading the catalogs. With hostas the
situation has been complicated by the tissue-culture process, which isn't
always as trouble-free as they would like us to believe. Bad batches often
go out to the retailers that will never grow into decent plants, no matter
what care they're given. Good plants end up getting bad reputations only
because one TC batch went wrong.

.........Bill Meyer

> I guess what I'm saying is that, once again, we've come upon a problem
> that sounds like a good issue, something that sellers should be ashamed
> of and buyers should be up in arms about, and so far it turns out that
> we've come up with two plants.  So how big a problem is it really?
> I'll agree that there is not much justification for growing either of
> these. But before we get too upset at the growers and warning buyers to
> beware, I think we really have to come up with more than two plants out
> of all the hostas we offer.
> Boy, it's not easy to stir you guys up.  What's wrong, you all still
> bloated from stuffing yourselves over the holidays?
> Chick
> Stayin' Alive

>     Golden Sunburst is definitely one that should not
>     be sold, and probably Lunar Eclipse could be dropped, but frankly,
>     few people offer them any more.
>   Unfortunately, Golden Sunburst is offered by 13 retailers and Lunar
>   14 per the 2002 Hosta Finder. It is shocking to me that some well known
>   businesses continue to sell these plants. Have they no conscious?
>   Only the unknowledgable would buy these hostas.
>   I'm not suggesting that anyone should try to restrict free trade, but I
>   personally think less of businesses that continue to offer the above two
>   hostas. I'm sure there are others.
>   Ray Rodgers, Bartonville, IL, CIHS, Zone 5
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