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

     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.

    Over 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 H.’High Noon’.

    Over 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.

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