always been a flower gardener. The large blooms of okra fascinated me as a
child, and when I purchased my house, roses, phlox and parrot tulips soon found
a new home. But, it was my "First Look" at H. plantaginea in a Wayside
Catalog that "changed" me forever! So big, so beautiful, so fragrant!
So what if I ordered every hosta on the page, and a book by a man named Aden,
and joined the AHS? Little did I know where these steps were taking me.
"First Look" at the AHS was the 1994 convention in Atlanta. I had been
growing gesneriads under lights since the early 70s, and had frequented many
conventions of that national society, but nothing I had seen prepared me for
Nashville at that time, there were few hosta available for sale. One garden
center had one or two offerings from Viette's, but otherwise the pickings were
slim to none. Somewhere, I learned that a woman named Mary Chastain had a hosta
nursery near Chattanooga, so, to break the drive to Atlanta, I stopped by
"Lakeside Acres" on Roy Lane. My goodness! I had never seen so many
hosta. Mary helped me with my selections, then said that I could leave them at
the nursery and pick them up on my way home. Wasn't that sweet of her......
Little did I know that the next time I pulled the car into her drive, I would be
engulfed with a fever. If you have an opportunity to visit Lakeside, never say,
"I don't have room in my car" 'cause Roy can definitely pack in just
one more hosta.
gesneriads, I was accustomed to showing a complete plant, the concept of First
Look. But I must say, when I saw Tony's H. 'White Wall Tires' and Bob Kuk's H.
'Photo Finish' I drooled. Gardens, gardens, and more gardens...... Each bulging
with hosta, but reflecting so many interpretations by their caregivers. Toni
Wright's Japanese maples and dwarf conifers, and H. 'Raleigh Remembrance' which
I later purchased to honor my ancestors from that area. George Schmid's small
planting of grass between the sidewalk and curb, a requirement of the city,
announcing wonders to behold. Of course, I had to have an autographed copy of
the book by this hosta guru........ In awe I waited...... "Where are you
from Cornelia?" "Nashville, TN". "Oh, we use to live in
Nashville and my daughters were born there....." When George spoke to our
local society last year, he and Hildegarde shared that they were in fact married
not only cherish that book, but all the "Gosan" hosta I have added to
the garden, especially H. 'Gosan Leather Strap'.
morning as the convention crowd swarmed around the buses, I asked about the man
in the beret. "That's Paul Aden". My goodness, I had his book! I
didn't get up the courage to speak - after all, I knew so little about hosta.
But I still think about that "First Look" when reading 'The Hosta
a lot of folks say I "talk funny", but Alan Tower went to school at
Vanderbilt in Nashville, so he "understood" me when I called. He
gently corrected my hosta pronunciation and suggested I send my plant
list....... returning it with spelling and punctuation corrections. Recently, I
found some original invoices and correspondence from Alan and realize today what
wonderful gifts he bestowed with both his hostas and mentoring.
was such a great experience, I HAD to try '95 in Fairfax, VA. A girl friend (who
soon became hooked on hosta) joined me. As we rode the bus from garden to
garden, two guys started to gab. Turned out, this was their first hosta
convention...... Jack and Gary of Naylor Creek Nursery....... We eventually
shared some plants from the AHS Auction - My first auction to buy - $150 for a
two division H. 'Guacamole - now five feet in diameter.
was my "First Look" at entering a hosta Cut Leaf Show. A host
patiently instructed me on how to complete the three entry tags and place the
leaves. And, I took home a RED ribbon!
was also the convention where my table-mates one evening were Russ O'Harra and
his wife. I had no idea who they were until after I returned home. H.'Yellow
Submarine' my first O'Harra hybrid, from Robyn's Nest, and H.'PoPo, from Betty
Comfrey, remain two of the favorite hosta in my garden, and H.'Rosanna' has
recently been added.
man seemed to be everywhere at that convention, pushing a computer cart for the
auction, directing "traffic", stopping only to be a gracious host as
we visited his garden. Where Schmid had planted grass, Kevin Walek had planted
day lilies. And that was the year everyone had a "First Look" at Kevin
in a tuxedo as he "washed up" for the Saturday night banquet.
to Portland in '96..... The only attendee from Tennessee, but in no way did I
feel like the Maytag Repairman. Diane Gray Dalton was a "seat-mate" on
a bus trip and shared a magazine article featuring hosta in her garden. Hey,
she's the lady the hosta is named for! H. 'Pixie Power' reminds me of our
picture was taken with Alex and Gene Summers! We toured Walden West. Robyn's
Nest. I purchased H. 'Breeder's Choice’ from Tower. And then, as I sat on a
bench one afternoon, Paul Aden sat down beside me. Whereas two years prior, I
did not speak, this time, we talked and talked........ Not about hosta, but
about Schweitzer, Alzheimer patients, music, books, and the merchant marine
visited relatives in Nashville and came to my garden, "Tranquility".
As I asked questions, he graciously answered, and with H. 'Wiggle Worms' gave me
my "First Look" as how to identify a division that may produce
streaked seedlings. Other New Englander's visiting relatives in Nashville were
Ernie and Christine Flippo. They arrived as I was in the middle of a
construction walk-through with the architect and contractor and were a breath of
fresh air. I still don't have all of the boxes unpacked from that event, but H.
puchella and its gigantic flowers is a warm reminder of their visit.
first heard of Diana Grenfell when Warren Pollock talked about the BHHS at Hosta
in Focus and had an opportunity to meet her when she came to Nashville to speak
to the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society about her "First Looks" at hosta
and growers. Warren's donation that year to the Focus auction of H. laevigata
triggers pleasant memories.
Hosta in Focus banquet also afforded an opportunity to talk with Bob Solberg and
to learn why "moss doesn't always grow on the shady side". The large
clump of H. 'Savannah' on the front mound reminds me of his visit to Nashville.
It provided MTHS members with a “First Look” at new and exciting hosta and
me with a dilemma when he said "you're going to have to make some decisions
in this garden soon." He thought I would be out of space in "no time
you want to wager a bet on the Super Bowl?" Roy Dales asked. Of course!
Word was he had fabulous hosta, and who could imagine the Titans loosing to the
Rams? Needless to say, a ‘Yellow Submarine’ is now looking for targets in
many wonderful memories these seven years of hosta addiction have created. The
above are only a few of the many wonderful people who have entered my life,
sharing, mentoring, encouraging, providing examples of excellence. So many
"First Looks" that have become second, third, and more. And, yet, so
many more "First Looks" to anticipate.