| On January
17th, 2017, the shocking news came that Bob Axmear had passed away.
Few people have had the impact on the hosta world that Bob had. He
was undisputably one of the most influential people in hostas,
and he will be remembered for many years to come for the
creation of the HostaLibrary.
Back in 1999, when the hosta
world was still learning the importance of the internet, Bob had an
idea. He would build a website where people could share photos of
named hostas. A website that catalogued all the hostas, where people
could go to see what they looked like in an era of catalog
descriptions with few pictures of the plants to be seen anywhere.
It was to be a site for everyone, and like the internet
itself, he brought together people from all over the world. Bob dove
into the work with gusto, adding pages and photos by the hundreds,
building and building as people from around the world contributed
photos. His HostaLibrary built a sense of world community that had
us all feeling a part of something bigger. He thankfully ignored the
few detractors (Yes, there were some) and continued every year to
build the greatest plant site on the internet. These days it
averages over 1,000 separate visitors a day.
The HostaLibrary soon became the world's top hosta
resource. Pages were linked to Hugo Philips' database. W. George
Schmid contributed his great work on hosta species, and many others
added information as well.
Over the years complications from his spinal injuries
led to multiple surgeries and chronic pain, but he persevered in his
work on the HostaLibrary, even holding contests to encourage more
photo contributions. Photos came in by the hundreds as the numbers
of new hostas blossomed in the new century, and Bob added page after
page to accommodate them. Over the years he spent thousands of hours
building his contribution to the hosta world, a level of
contribution few could match. He was awarded the American Hosta
Society's highest honor, the Alex J. Summers Award, in 2010.