I received my copy of the latest Hosta Journal yesterday and read with
interest C. H's article on the case for registration of hosta names. I
sort of agree with what he says, which if you don't have a copy yet, is
in part a tale of the same names being applied to two different hostas
because people (including me) often name a hosta without registering it.
The problem comes when someone else uses the same name for their plant
and registers it, thereby making the name invalid for the first plant,
even if it has been distributed.
I have a plant here that I initially called 'Mellow Yellow' until I found
out that Herb Benedict had a plant under that name. His wasn't
registered, but I wouldn't mess with Herb's names. So then I renamed it
'Yellow Submarine', but Russ O'Hara got that one first. Again, his wasn't
registered, but it seemed silly to use the name again. I'm not even sure
what the third name was, might have been 'Afternoon Delight', but
whatever it was, Dave Chopko told me he already had a plant with that
name in his garden. Well, I got tired of this, so I decided to use a
prefix on at least some of my plants, like Mary does with "Lakeside". I
thought about "Bridgewood", but I thought it might be confused with
"Birchwood", so then I decided to use "Zydeco" on some of my plants. I'm
one of three people outside of Louisiana who likes Zydeco music, which I
describe to the uninitiated as hollering real loud, in Cajun French if
possible, while playing an accordion and banging on a washboard. How
could you not love it. Anyway, I named a plant 'Zydeco Green Mist',
which made it to the Hosta Library, but I unfortunately lost the plant
before it was ever introduced. I still may use that prefix, but Ed
Elslager has just registered a plant named 'Zydeco', so that might be
confusing. So after all this, I still have a plant that seems to get a
new name every year.
So anyway, back to C.H.'s article. Obviously, his point is that I could
solve this problem by registering the plant. What he actually says is
"Such confusion never would occur if names were registered before the
plants they identify were discussed, open for viewing, shared or sold".
I kind of agree, but it seems to me that what that means is that a plant
should be registered as soon as you slap a name on a seedling before you
ever decide whether it's worth anything and before you know much about
it. I know that's not what he says, but I have lots of interesting
seedlings that I have discussed and let visitors view long before I knew
enough about them to fill out the registration form. And I frequently
name the plants because if I'm going to be looking at them for years,
it's easier to keep track of them if they have a name. I use numbers too,
but some plants graduate to real names but never make the cut for
introduction. Sometimes I share them with friends before I think they
should be registered. If I finally decide to sell them I publish the
name and description in my catalog, which I understand establishes the
name until I get around to registering.
I don't know about everyone else, but I name plenty of plants that never
go anywhere. If you evaluate a plant for years, which to me means
discussing them and showing them to others and sometimes sharing them, I
agree that the plant should have a name, but I'm not sure that means it
should be registered. I grow many plants for years that never get
introduced. I just don't think it makes sense to clutter up the
registrations with names of plants that aren't going anywhere. Does the
registrar really want me to register every seedling I've given a name
to? I suspect by the number of registrations that some have been
submitting lately that some people favor this course.
C.H. also says "...registrations are increasing at an alarming - or, to
some, exciting rate... over 300 per year...Some introducers are
registering over 30 per year alone." I for one don't find that
exciting. I know all the arguments for registering everything, and in
theory I agree, but there are so many people breeding hostas now, do we
really want to register every plant as soon as it acquires a name? I
probably have 10 or 15 seedlings of 'Uncle Albert' alone that I've been
growing for years and some of them will be introduced and some won't.
But they all have names because that's the only way I can remember which
is which. I just hate the idea of registering them and then throwing
half of them away.
I also have a problem with registering too early because it leads to the
preservation of misinformaiton, especially in ultimate plant size. How
many of our registrations list ultimate plant size that has no
relationship to the actual size of a mature plant? And that information
gets re-used everywhere because it's easier than writing a real
description of the plant.
So, I propose, for the umpteenth time, that we have a system where people
can reserve names for a limited time. I know the Daylily Society had one
a while back, but since I no longer belong I don't know if they still
do. I don't mean a system where everyone reserves every name they can
think of, there are ways to place limits on how many names can be
reserved by an individual and for how long, Maybe it's not legal, and I
know someone is going to decide it's too much trouble, though it doesn't
seem that hard to me to type the name of a plant and an originator into a
database and put it on the web.
So, since I know that's never going to happen, I suggest at least that
before you register a plant that you take a look at the Hosta Library and
do a Google Search to see if the name is already being used. Obviously,
if the plant wasn't registered you could still use the name, but wouldn't
it be better just to think of another one?
Also, here's a question. Does publishing a name in a catalog still
establish the name? Can I just put a list of the names in my catalog and
mail it to the registrar to keep anyone else from using them?
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