The Mildred Seaver Award is given to the person entering the best seedling overall as chosen by the attendees at First Look. This Award was presented for the first time in 2001 by none other than the ‘Queen of the Hostas’ herself, Mildred Seaver.
Mildred Seaver is a unique individual who has hybridized some truly
unique Hostas. She grew up in a family of farmers and for many years supplied
the local church with bouquet material from her sunny Connecticut yard full of
thousands of spring bulbs, daylilies, chrysanthemums and flowering
shrubs. In 1957, the family moved to Needham, Massachusetts where the new house
was nestled among some forty two trees. Wondering what to plant in all that
shade, she sought the advice of a
daylily friend, Leola Fraim. Leola explained that hosta were the answer and
showed her H. ‘Frances Williams’. When Mildred said she could not afford to
purchase it, Leola explained that “you can grow them from seed”.
Thus, a hosta hybridizer was born.
the next twenty years, her garden grew in obscurity. And it grew extremely well,
augmented by tons of compost created by her thrifty husband, Charles W. In the
late seventies, her garden was discovered by the hosta elite and they have
beaten a path to her door ever since. All manner of interesting hostas were
found growing in mature clumps known only as “seedling”.
From these seedlings came some sixty hybrids including H. ‘Sea
Sapphire’ , H. ‘Sea Dream’ H. ‘Sea Thunder’, H. ‘Sea Beacon’, and
the years, Mildred’s dislike of housekeeping and reluctance to throw anything
away has extended to the garden where all sorts of plant material is overgrown
and competes for survival. Paths have been overrun and buried, but the
conditions are ideal for new seedlings to survive. No weeding means new
seedlings can get a foothold. One of her most unique cultivars, H. ‘Spilt
Milk’ was four years old before its characteristic splashed streaking was
seen. Most other hybridizers would have culled the plant long ago.
Mildred helped form the New England Hosta Society and contributed many of
her unique hybrids to the local and national auctions. She goes out of her way
to meet strangers and share her knowledge and enthusiasm for hostas. Her
generosity has been repaid with many awards, and the unofficial title among her
friends of “Queen of Hostas”. She
is proud to be the only person to have been honored
by having her photograph on the cover of the American Hosta Journal. If
ever in the Needham area, stop by 47 Rosalie Rd., Mildred will be every bit as
memorable as seeing her garden.