# 22 is a winner

Hosta Mill Hosta receives award


Hosta 'Mill'

Sometimes seemingly trivial decisions can have a major impact.  That's what happened to the Hosta Mill last weekend.
I had planned to attend the 20th anniversary celebration of the NHV (Nederlandse Hosta Vereniging = Dutch Hosta Society) on Saturday June 13. The organization committee had scheduled a lot of activities, among which a Cut Leaf Show, a "Best Hosta in a container" competition, also a "Best seedling", "Best Sport" and "Best Hosta Introduction 2009" competition.  As the success of this kind of events depends on the participation of the members, I felt I had an obligation to take part in at least some of them.

The week before was extremely hectic for me.  On June 7 we'd had elections for the Flemish Parliament, and as I am a civil servant, working for the Flemish Parliament, I had to work long days that week.  I had a lot on my mind, and none of it involved hostas.

An appointment almost missed

It was already Friday afternoon when I started thinking about the meeting the next day.  I sent an e-mail to Jeroen Linneman, the chairman of the NHV, asking him if he was expecting enough seedlings for the competition.  I volunteered to bring some if there weren't enough.  He replied he expected a fair amount, but to bring some seedlings anyway. 

At this stage, I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable, because this would be my first participation in a hosta competition, and it would be without much preparation.  I didn't even have a potted seedling.

When I got home late that Friday, I still had to find a plant for the "Best Hosta in a Container" competition, a plant for the fund raising auction, and at least one seedling.  As the seedlings had to have at least two shoots, choice was limited.  Finally I dug up a rather nice and large H. 'Grand Slam' seedling (it was labeled H. 'Grand Slam' OP #22, 2006-2007), that had 4 shoots. It was carefully put in a black pot, as requested by the competition rules.  There were some I personally liked better, but they were to small.  It was a nice plant, but expectations were low.

Confidence is growing

Saturday 10 AM, Rotterdam, Trompenburg Arboretum.

After I placed it on the show table, I started to realize that #22 had a combination of desirable traits in it, and it would not be without a chance.  First, and most important: it was distinct.  Other plants in competition were very good looking, but they resembled existing cultivars closely. Mine didn't remind me of any other existing cultivar; but this may well be caused by a lack of knowledge.  And the small stature, folded, heavily rippled leaves, red pets and twisted tip made it a very pleasing little fellow (or lass).  The only thing I personally didn't care for very much was the color of the upper leaf: a plain, dull, greenish yellow.

It's a winner

Well, you all know the final outcome by now: #22 got first prize and had its moment in the spotlights.  Of course I felt pride, but I kept in mind my own merits were limited: the bees did all the hard work.  The Hostapedia I received really was the icing on the cake.

It was a real case of beginners luck.  Some of the other members had registered their new introductions the year before, or had already named them.  These plants couldn't participate any more.  Certain other members of whom I know they do have superb seedlings were attending First Look.  There are dozens of reasons, but in the end, none of them mather.

#22 gets a proper name 

To support the good cause, I decided to donate a shoot for the auction; the revenue goes to the NHV.
At this time, I felt #22 should have a name.  One condition: it had to have 'Mill' in it's name.  I came up with half a dozen names, none of them any good.  Then Jeroen suggested: why not call it 'Mill', short and simple.

Mmm... Hosta 'Mill'.  Reminded me of something.  Way to go Jeroen.

The auction itself was a lot of fun.  I went home with a nice streaker (H. 'Splashed Leather', thanks Marco, and 5 of Jeroen's seedlings.

H. 'Mill' was the last to enter the stage.  Bidding was fierce, so the price quickly went sky high. I won't tell you what it fetched in the end, but it will help the NHV to keep the membership cost low for a little longer..

And now ?

Once I got home, I started thinking about the future of my first born.
In just a few hours time, it had changed from a simple seedling into a very special plant to me:

- it won the competition of course,
- it got a name
- it's the first Hosta Mill plant that grows outside the Hosta Mill garden.

The first step is going to be easy: let it grow, prosper and multiply.  This stage will take at least three more years.

After that, we'll see what the future has in store for it. 

There are a couple of possibilities:

  1. The plant looses all or most of  it's qualities while growing up, or it dies.  Well, that would be the end of the line.
  2. It grows into a plant that appeals to a lot of people.  It this case, commercial introduction is considered, not just for the money, but to give as many hosta lovers as possible to buy it at a reasonable price. Another option in this case would be to choose for a sibling to Hosta 'Mill'.  At least two of them are, in my opinion, better looking, showing more 'star quality'.

    Hosta 'Mill' becomes a plant with limited commercial potential, a 'collector's item'.  Should that happen, then there are 3 options, of which I would prefer the first one: 

    1. It will be a friendship plant.  The joy I receive from looking after our plants and meeting fellow hosta enthusiasts can't be measured in nickels an dimes.  I've met some very nice folk while growing hostas, some I even call friends.  Some of them I've never even met 'in the flesh' ... the blessings of the internet.  Some people have had a great impact on the Hosta community in Holland and Belgium, some even on a larger scale.  It's these people that make our hobby as good as it is today.
    2. It's is multiplied through limited TC.
    3. It becomes a real 'collector's item', available as OS.
Hosta 'Mill'