Bill Meyer
   The process of trying to determine the origin of some of the most famous hostas ever created has been an interesting one for me. When we started out, like most who had heard some of the stories, I was under the impression that Aden had dishonestly acquired a number of plants and pretended they were his own. That much was common knowledge in hybridizer circles. I had no idea that Florence Shaw had done so much, and did think of her as a minor hybridizer with a few nice plants to her credit. What we found when we started putting all the pieces together was a shock to all of us, I think.
   Florence Shaw was the most important hosta hybridizer we've seen to date and she revolutionized hostas and was truly the one person who set hostas moving on the road to becoming the #1-selling perennial that they are today. By stealing her legacy and trying to con everyone into thinking he was that person, Aden did serious harm in many areas and caused fighting and turmoil that exists to this day.
   When he followed that up by stealing Kevin Vaughn's outstanding work with fragrant plants and other creations, he short-circuited the hosta hybridizing career of the next great hybridizer, causing him to eventually lose interest and go on to other pursuits. Instead of supporting and encouraging the remarkable young prodigy and urging him on to greater things, Aden robbed him blind and cashed in on his work. 
   Those who hybridize ornamental plants, with few exceptions like roses, are dedicated to the creation of beautiful things and live in a world that places little value on that. In most types of plants there is very little money to be made and very few hybridizers even make back the money they spend to produce the plants. Many do it simply for the love of the work, of adding a little more beauty to the world. Florence Shaw and Kevin Vaughn belong in that group. Paul Aden was merely a predator looking to feed off their efforts.
   Some interesting questions arose in the course of the investigation that no doubt will be wrestled with for years to come. Among them is the question of who should be credited as the originator where a sport or seedling of a stolen plant is concerned, when it is registered by either the person who stole the parent plant or by an innocent party later on.
   Another is what part society politics should play in the work of the international registration authority. With society politicians making demands of the registrar, the registration system's impartiality is under fire. How much power should the AHS board, which is often made up of people serving short terms with little knowledge of ICNCP requirements and standards, have over the world's registration authority? Without doubt Aden corrupted the registration system from the very beginning, using it to serve his own dishonorable ends. Society boards with political agendas can be just as damaging to the system.
   When some say that Paul Aden deserves credit in some way for robbing Shaw, Vaughn,  and others because it got their hostas into the trade, they condone the things he did because they like the end result. They praise the villain and give his victims another kick while they're still down. Aden didn't do anything great or valuable for the larger community. Aden did anything he could to anybody he could to get the money and fame he craved but never earned. Any greater good that came of that was incidental to him once he got what he wanted and not cause for praise or credit. To this day there are those who defend him even though they know little of what he had done. Even after he is gone he can still fool some of the people all of the time.
   The picture of Aden that emerged from all of our research is that of a petty, self-serving little man who had no qualms about stooping to anything to further his aims. In lying, cheating, and stealing his way to fame and fortune, he damaged everything and everyone around him and almost got away with the great deception he delivered to the world. 


   I'd like to thank the many people living and no longer among us who provided so much information to our committee. Each small piece helped to build a picture which, though not complete by far, was enough to gain an understanding of what happened so many years ago. Among those who offered information either themselves or relating what others said to them about Aden are:
Ken Anderson
Bruce Banyai
John Bond
Don Dean
C. H. Falstad
Rod Lysne
the McBurnie family
Eldren Minks
Warren Pollock
George Rasmussen
Peter Ruh
Kathie Sisson
Alex Summers
Chet Tompkins
Kevin Vaughn
Kevin Walek
Mark Zilis

Photo Credits

Introduction: Aden photo courtesy of the Long Island Daylily Society and Mary Kay Denman

Building the Case: Aden/Christ photo courtesy Carol Brashear
                                 'Royal Rainbow' photo taken by Paul Aden
                                 'Blue Cadet' photo unknown origin
Aden and the AHS: Aden photo courtesy of the Long Island Daylily Society and Mary Kay Denman
                                 Aden posing with 'Fragrant Bouquet' courtesy Ali Pollock
                                 other two photos taken by Paul Aden
Florence Shaw article: all photos courtesy of Maureen Cameron (her granddaughter)
Kevin Vaughn article: award portrait and Miami U photo provided by Kevin Vaughn
                                  'Fragrant Bouquet' photo courtesy of Chick Wasitis