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Re: Hosta 'Cathy's Clown'

  • Subject: Re: Hosta 'Cathy's Clown'
  • From: gw1944@vermontel.net (Glen Williams)
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 06:36:09 -0400

Dear All:

For all of the benefits of TC for the consumers (in getting new hostas out
- sooner , cheaper, and in vast quanities) there are a glut of
indiscretions/moral lapses/crooked dealings which have come with the tissue
culture  process. I have nothing but sympathy for Chick and Mary. I suppose
that when one has thousands of liners the temptation to keep a few can be
great. And of course passing these along to a "few" friends or even using
them for trade is a real possibility. Keeping off-type liners and sports
found in TC (who would know?) add another dimension for possible moral
lapses. The cookie jar is full of possibilities for those who are morally

In olden days small hybridizers would donate cuttings from their newest
hostas to the AHS auction. The next year they would find the market
saturated with "THEIR" plant. I can only imagine the frustrations of this
situation. When I can, I still try and buy OS or TC from the originator of
the plant. It's quixotic but makes me feel a little better.

As I said, my sympathies are with Chick and Mary. There is another issue
which has not been mentioned that comes with the TC saturation of the
market with a particular hosta. By putting out such numbers of so many
"new" hostas , the process tends to cheapen those plants. Of course they
become inexpensive, but they become "cheap" in a metaphorical sense too.
Too much is too available for too little. Hostas are rapidly developing a
BIG MAC McHosta reputation. In one sense of the word we now have a yearly
glut of new hostas out there in vast numbers for one year. Then they are
gone within a year or two without any real evaluation.  We want the latest
model. In some ways I picture a cartoon for THJ where there is a drive-thru
window for McHOSTAS with a sign saying 26 BILLION SOLD, and a line of
garden carts at that drive-thru stretching off into the sunset.

I am afraid to say that at least for me, registering, naming, or even
getting a patend for a plant are  side issues to a bigger problem. I don't
want a giant wall around my garden. Barbed wire and guard towers  would
take the pleasure of my garden away. I would certainly feel the same way
about any plants that I discovered or bred.

 And all of this leads to discussions of human nature which most of us have
had for all of our adult lives. Still, not responding to the dilema of
those of you who become separated from the profits of your creative labors
in the hostas that you bring to the rest of us, needs all the public airing
it can get. I am still in favor of the use of the "stocks" in the public
square. Even a scarlet "H" emblazoned on those that would cheat the
hybridizer is remains a viable suggestion.

"It's not the reason that makes us happy or unhappy..." Wallace Stevens

Glen Williams
20 Dewey St.
Springfield , Vermont
Tel: 802-885-2839 

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