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Re: A Hosta Plea

It seems like I've heard this complaint for ten years. Too many hostas, too many hostas. I guess what I wonder is, if it's such a problem why don't we do something about it. The answer seems simple enough. First we need some standards. Someone has to provide a guide as to what is good enough to be introduced. Maybe a point scale, so that in lean years we can lower the standard and then raise them when there's a glut. Probably the best way to do this is to appoint a committee. Was there ever a committee that worked on the AHS's Preferred Growers Program? If so, maybe we could use the same one. Then we need some enforcement mechanism. This is probably easier than we might think, since we can again fall back of the AHS, which, in the above program, already gave a bit of thought on how to keep growers in line. Naturally, I am all for this, because I miss the old days when there were fewer new plants available from the tc labs and we could get big bucks for anything we had that nobody else was offering.

Come on Glen. Admit it. You're sitting up there in Vermont in front of the stove, all wrapped up in a quilt, surrounded by portable electric heaters, and you're going to be cranky until mid-June when it warms up a bit and you can go out and see what made it through the winter.

Hosta collectors never had it so good. Of course there are too many hostas. And too many daylilies, roses, azaleas, tomatoes. I just bought a book with descriptions of 400 different Japanese Maples for crying out loud. The only reason I'm not outraged is that I have enough self control to keep myself from buying them all. Not that I'm suggesting that hosta collectors learn to control themselves.


Glen Williams wrote:

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 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
Tel: 802-885-2839

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