Once again I find myself standing before you in St. Louis, humbled and grateful, receiving a major
award. The selection process was made both times by people that I personally hold in high regard and
have looked to as examples because they have led the way. The difference between the awards is that
the Alex J. Summers Award is presented for what is given - knowledge and/or service; something that
seems normal to me if one is to gain from an organization. This award is for something far more
selfish to me - satisfying my own curiosity and passion. It simply ‘feels’ different. I wish to thank the
committee as well as the many others that have found appreciation for my creations. Again, this
phenomenon called hosta comes down to being about people gaining, growing and appreciating being
This hybridizing journey began in 1991 with growing seed. It was clear to me that my taste and
passion for acquiring fine plants far exceeded my budget. I was an educator early on in my career. I
had read everything I could find, especially registrations, about parentage and hybridizing. I had
begun to attend national and regional meetings, soaking up knowledge at each event. It was clear that
many fine cultivars were the result of open pollinated seed having been grown and selected. Surely, I
could do as well; even better if I controlled the crosses. I looked to the people, Kevin Vaughn, the
Lachmans and Eric Smith, in their registrations. They controlled their crosses. I had the good fortune
to talk many hours with my mentors during visits and traveling together around the country, Ken
Anderson, Hideko Gowan and Herb Benedict. This community of people talking about creating new
hostas grew from there. It has expanded exponentially with the advent of electronic media.
I began by focusing upon building a breeding base different from other peoples’ breeding stock. By
1998 a few individuals that introduced new plants to the market came to find me. What had begun to
be for myself began to be shared with others. My earliest introductions began becoming available in
the early 2000’s and are staged to continue in future years.
Registration was the knowledge foundation that I learned from. Registration has become a must for
plants being introduced to a broad audience and is crucial for current and future hybridizers to
advance the genus. Registration will accelerate their ability to bring us the next generations of breakthrough
plants. Current hybridizers learned from others, as will people carrying us into the future if
we provide the information. It is people growing with the gift of knowledge from other people.
I need to select a plant as the 2016 Eunice Fischer Distinguished Merit Hosta. This is no easy task.
How does one go about selecting one Hosta that is ‘more important’ than the others? People, again,
gave me the solution; a “most important” person and a plant fitting that person for this special award.
The plant needs to have crisp, clean color. Preferably, it has a classic beauty that sustains its
importance. It must be distinctively important to ME. And it needs a name that captures the
importance of this person and/or a characteristic that is important in my life. The plant I have
selected is named for a person that has offered patient support, is beautiful and, more importantly, a
beautiful person that is continuously and selflessly giving to everyone around her, and asking little in
return. For obvious reasons, I discarded possible names for this plant when it was registered because
the name would need to fit upon a plant tag. Names like ‘Beauty Like the Day We Met’ and ‘Always
and Forever My Bride’ were simply too long. I selected H. ‘Pure Intentions’ for the name. H. ‘Pure
Intentions’ is the Eunice Fischer Distinguished Merit Hosta of 2016, named for my wife, Gail.