The Evidence - a Summary
Bill Meyer
  Before reading the testimonial evidence below, a brief discussion of evidentiary standards is in order. While the question of whether Aden stole or conned his victims out of their plants would be appropriate for a criminal court to decide, the question of who the originators truly were is clearly something that would be a civil matter. In civil courts, the evidence standard is much lower than it is in criminal courts. The norm for civil cases is what is called a "preponderance of evidence", which simply means whichever side has the more convincing evidence. Testimony as a rule bears weight as evidence, and the below summary includes testimony from a number of people.
  It should be noted that Aden was never required to submit any evidence whatsoever that any of the plants were his originations to have them accepted by the registrar. The registrations do not constitute proof that his ownership was demonstrated or vetted in any way. That he was permitted to register the plants does not indicate anyone checked to see if they were his originations.
  As most of the evidence we have uncovered is testimonial in nature, if it were a civil case it then would be a matter of comparing Aden's word against the others who say differently.

Part 1: Smoking Guns

1. Several hostas were already being circulated in the Boston area from Florence Shaw's hybridizing program. These were in the hands of several rare plant enthusiasts before Aden is known to have acquired them. Once he got pieces of them, he named and then registered them. The following group was identified as being in circulation without names before Aden began acquiring hostas:

'Blue Angel' (another tried to take credit for this one prior to Aden, naming it 'President Woodrow Wilson')
'Love Pat'
'Golden Waffles'
'Blue Cadet'
'Fascination'
2. After his acquisition of Kevin Vaughn's plants, Aden registered Kevin's 'Christmas Tree' as his own, renaming it 'Grandmaster'. He was unaware that Kevin had already given a piece of it to Mildred Seaver. He attempted to claim 'Summer Fragrance' as well and was again thwarted by Kevin having a piece elsewhere
3. Aden purchased several plants from Chet Tompkins and told Chet they died. Later he registered one of them as 'Flamboyant' making up a ridiculous story about X-Ray treated seed. He also took credit for its stable form, naming it 'Shade Fanfare'.
4. In England, Aden purchased a plant called 'Borwick Beauty' from the McBurnie family and renamed and registered it as 'Color Glory'. The McBurnies offered a receipt signed by Aden as proof to the Registrar.
5. Also in England, Aden acquired then tried to take credit for John Bond's 'Great Expectations' after hearing Bond had lost the rest of the plant. Another piece remained in the hands of a Bond friend, so Aden was thwarted.
6. In Japan, Aden visited Gotemba Nursery and purchased a montana sport called 'Choko Nishiki' there. He returned home and renamed it 'On Stage', registering it as his own.

Part 2: Remaining Testimony

7.    Through the 1960's into the early 1970's, Florence Shaw had a big but almost unknown hybridizing program utilizing plants no one else was working with at the time. Her breeding included nakaiana, 'Elatior', 'Tokudama', and variegation from a streaked 'Marble Rim'. By the time Aden got there there were thousands of seedlings of all ages. this as per Kevin Vaughn. Birchwood was a large estate of 2 acres or more with the room to accommodate hybridizing on that scale. Aden's small Long Island property did not have the room.

8.    Florence Shaw became ill in 1974 and was bedridden towards the end of summer. Her daughter reported to Kevin Vaughn that Aden was in the yard digging plants without permission both then and in spring 1975. She passed away June 30th, 1975, and Alex Summers reports Aden there again after her death "helping her daughter". The daughter moved away, leaving the house empty until it was purchased by the current owner, leaving Aden yet more access.

9.    Various people, including Pete Ruh and George Rasmussen, report the sudden appearance of many plants of all ages, including mature clumps, filling Aden's yard to bursting coinciding with the time he was stealing plants at Birchwood. These plants were dead ringers for the type of plants Florence was working with (see #1). Had Aden started hybridizing, he would not have had mature plants until later in the 1970's.

10.    Numerous people remarked that in conversations they were baffled by Aden's lack of any understanding of basic hybridizing principles. This struck them as odd considering he claimed the most impressive collection of newly hybridized hostas anywhere in the world. Apparently in response, Aden added a chapter on hybridizing to his book that was ghost-written by Andre Viette.  

11.    Aden stole as many as 65 plants of all ages, including mature clumps, from Kevin Vaughn during the period 1974-1977. These were on display at the 1979 convention with tags removed. Info per Kevin Vaughn.

12.    Hybridizers including George Rasmussen were puzzled by the mysterious lack of any sign of hybridizing (seedlings) at Aden's place through the 1970's. They went everywhere trying to find the "secret seedling beds" Aden talked about and never discovered them.

13.    Registration of hostas began in 1974. Aden immediately tested the waters by registering four Shaw plants as his own with made-up parentage, including 'Blue Cadet', which was known to others to be hers at the time. Apparently these were accepted without question, encouraging Aden to register 23 more in 1976.

14.    It has long been suspected if not known that Aden made up the parentage for the plants he registered, showing clear intent to deceive. This was confirmed (in a way) by Aden himself to C.H. Falstad, to whom Aden recommended he do the same with any he registered. In interviews, Aden sometimes made up different parentage on the spot contradicting his registrations.

15.    Aden visited Japan on at least one but likely more occasions. There he purchased a named montana sport from Gotemba Nursery, stole a plant from a temple, and otherwise acquired several plants later registered as his own originations.

16.   Alex Summers related that Aden stole daylilies from him and registered those as his own, with "Eenie" prefixes. He also related catching Aden at Honeysong stealing a plant from the ground.

17.   Aden threatened several people who wanted to expose the truth about his "originations" with lawsuits if they went public. None did. Related by Mark Zilis.

18.   Aden was captured on film at a convention stealing plants from a bed at the Minnesota Arboretum. By that point his "sticky fingers" were common knowledge and at the 1990 convention guards were assigned to follow him in gardens. Info per Don Dean.

19.  In the mid-90's the registrations were changed to show the originator prominently. Despite claiming many more great new plants as his own, Aden never registered another plant.

20.  A few years before his death, Aden was approached at a meeting of the Tri-State Hosta Society and asked to autograph a book next to photos of his registrations. As the person turned page after page to well-known Aden registrations, Aden denied that any were his plants and walked away refusing to sign his name anywhere. Was this him finally admitting the truth? Related by Kathie Sisson.

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