Kevin Vaughn


    Kevin Vaughn was one of the brightest stars on the hosta horizon while still in his twenties. Having published one of the very best fundamental scientific studies on hostas, he concentrated for a while on hybridizing and had a profound effect on the genus as we know it today. "The Cross" is one of the great moments in the development of hostas, and it belongs on anyone's Top Ten list of the most important moments in hosta history.

     Prior to "The Cross", variegated hostas were solely sports or flimsy-substanced seedlings from the old Frances Williams sport 'Beatrice'. To make "The Cross", he used one of the latter and 'Frances Williams' (the plant) and from the resulting seedlings he selected 'Breeder's Choice', 'Christmas Tree', 'William Lachman', and 'Mildred Seaver'. Hostas were never the same after that.

     Kevin was friends with many of the well-known names in hostas during the 1980's, and he shared some of his plants with the Lachmans, Mildred Seaver, Paul Aden, and even Herb Benedict. Their portfolios show just how huge an impact Kevin's cross had as most (excluding Benedict) of their variegated introductions from that point on got their variegation from Kevin's shared seedlings. Many of these plants remain as staples today and are likely future winners of the AHS Benedict Medal. Streaked plants of each of the Big Four are still used today by many hybridizers for their excellent size, substance, and fertility.

     Kevin's brief but dazzling turn at hosta hybridizing included 33 registered hostas, among them such treasures as 'Delta Dawn', 'Formal Attire', 'Sunshine Glory', 'Summer Fragrance', 'Flower Power', and 'Tijuana Brass'. He also was an AHS Judge and wrote a number of articles for The Hosta Journal.

    All too soon, his career with the USDA took him to the Deep South, where the climate made hosta hybridizing virtually impossible. He then turned his hand to other genera and had great success with Tradescantia, Louisiana Iris, and Sempervivum. His work with the USDA is in the area of weed science, a vital part of the farming industry. He has produced over 160 research articles in his career and was chosen the Mid-South USDA Scientist of the Year. He was also president of the Society for Louisiana Iris and is an accomplished classical musician.

     Here at First Look, we have honored Kevin's contributions to the development of the genus Hosta by establishing in 2001 the Kevin Vaughn Award, which is given to the entered sport that is chosen as Best Overall by the AHS Judges.