The Frances Williams Award is given
to the person entering the best sport overall as chosen by the attendees at First Look. This Award
was presented for the first time in 200 1 by none other than Alex Summers, who knew Mrs.
Williams well. It was she, along with Eunice Fisher, who were co-founders with
Alex in 1968 of the American Hosta Society.
1 by none other than Alex Summers, who knew Mrs. Williams well. It was she, along with Eunice Fisher, who were co-founders with Alex in 1968 of the American Hosta Society.
She was born in 1883 in Salem,
Massachusetts, and graduated from MIT in 1904. She is best known for finding the
gold-edged sieboldiana sport that later came to bear her name. She was
instrumental in forming the American Hosta Society together with Alex Summers and
Eunice Fisher. She also provided many of today’s hybridizers with inspiration
and their first breeding plants.
Frances Williams was an important American hosta pioneer. She was our first hybridizer whose creations were named and registered, and some are still widely grown. H. ‘Frances Williams’ appears on the AHS Popularity Poll listing and remains a stalwart of the garden. H. ‘Beatrice’ was the source of all the variegation in the early breeding of Florence Shaw, Kevin Vaughn, the Lachmans, and many others, making it one of the most important plants in the history of the genus. H. ‘Green Piecrust’ is one of the earliest, and still one of the best, piecrust-margined hostas. To have produced early cultivars that can hold their place in the garden in the face of the exploding popularity of hostas and the flood of new introductions is no mean feat. Frances Williams was bright, she was a trained landscape architect, and she was a visionary. Her hybridizing activities foreshadowed what was to come by a half century. It is fitting and appropriate that we honor her with this award.
She passed away on October 15, 1969, and the interest in hostas she
helped to build has continued to grow ever since.