Introduction: The Search for Answers
Bill Meyer
 
 
   In this collection of articles I will be telling the tale of what was perhaps the greatest deception ever successfully pulled off in the world of ornamental plants. I freely admit that this is my own interpretation of the evidence gathered by the research committee I was a part of for two years, but these articles contain no fiction. We were able to gather many bits and pieces of the story, but it is by no means complete. If anyone reading this can supply more evidence, please contact me so it can be added.

PAUL ADEN circa 1969

   Before the turn of the century, one name rose above all others in the world of hostas. He reigned as king in the minds of the public, his name tied tightly to most of the top hostas in the marketplace. 'Sum and Substance', 'Blue Angel', 'Love Pat', 'Wide Brim', 'Blue Cadet', 'Shade Fanfare', 'Sun Power',  'Brim Cup', and more. They were in every collector's garden and are still to this day the mainstream plants in the big box stores and garden centers. Ask almost anyone who the person was who created such a great panoply of top-tier hostas and the answer was Paul Aden. Paul Aden, the master hybridizer. the Paul Aden who wrote two books. Paul Aden, who called himself the "Father of Hosta". Paul Aden, the shining star of the hosta firmament.   
   For over a decade I'd heard the stories about Aden, about how the plants he was famous for weren't his, and how nothing he said about them in the many registrations he made was true. In my time on the board of the AHS, I heard too that there was genuine fear that Aden would sue the AHS if anybody said much about it publicly. It was for that reason that everyone waited to investigate the origins of the plants until he was gone. He passed away in 2010, alone and forgotten for the most part in the same small Long Island, NY house that was once the worldwide center of hosta interest.
   Not long after his passing the Registrar for the Genus Hosta Kevin Walek announced he would be reviewing the Aden registrations with an eye for setting the record straight. His first action, in January of 2012, was to place an asterisk on all Aden registrations to denote that he was not considered the originator on any of the plants he registered.
   An independent committee formed a few weeks later that consisted of Mark Zilis, Kevin Vaughn, Don Dean, C. H. Falstad, and myself. Steven Shaw was a valuable later addition to the group. Our mission was to dig into all the historical materials and gather as much testimony as we could to see if we could solve the mystery of how someone who apparently never hybridized hostas, and indeed seemed unaware of even basic hybridizing knowledge, came up with so many great plants.
   The story that began to emerge from all the many bits and pieces we gathered was a fascinating one. It is not as complete as we would like, at least not with what we've learned so far, but there may be more evidence we have yet to find. We feel we were able to identify to a very strong degree of certainty many of the plants' originators, but a number of the 189 credited to Aden remained unclear.
   The other articles here represent my own opinions and interpretations of the evidence we have uncovered, and are not the consensus opinions of any group. Those who just wish to look at the evidence we've assembled and form their own conclusions are free to do so, and should go directly to the article titled "Evidence Summary" and read that first.
 

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