Hosta ‘Hans’ is a recent introduction hybridized by Tony Avent of Plant Delights. It is a vigorous white centered hosta, and that’s not a sentence you can often write. Most have been wimpy growers. There are a few exceptions which do grow well, such as ‘Fire and Ice’ (a Hansen introduction itself), but ‘Hans’ has proven a vigorous and impressive plant.
Many plants are named for people. In this instance, I thought my Spokane readers might be interested to get to know a little more about the person for whom this hosta is named. I’ve known Hans Hansen for over 20 years. We met through the American Hosta Society, and Hans was instrumental in the expansion of the genus. In the old days, my mail order nursery and a few others around the country had to propagate all the new and rare hostas by division, driving prices to $50 up to $200 per plant, sometimes even just a single division. Hans is a wizard of micropropagation, otherwise known as tissue culture. He could test tube propagate thousands of plants from a single original. He succeeded in propagating varieties the “experts” said could never be done, such as ‘Spilt Milk’ and ‘Embroidery’. The mass propagation brought the prices down, and the number of varieties of hostas were greatly increased as hybridizing was vigorously pursued in the heyday of expansion. Now a great assortment is widely available and affordable.
For 15 years he was the driving force for Shady Oaks Nursery, a now extinct nursery that specialized in hostas. Hans made the career move to a large, powerhouse nursery, Walters Gardens, and has been there the past 7 years. Just a few facts: Hans has almost 60 hostas to his credit according to the database from the American Hosta Society registrar. And that’s not all. Walters grows lots of perennials, and Hans has hybridizing efforts going on (field trials and so forth) for many genera. He still does hostas, but also hibiscus, nepeta, baptisia, mangave, and many more–over time about 70 genera in total.
Hosta ‘Hans’ is a tribute not only to a great hybridizer, but also a fine gardener. His design efforts inspire many across the country. His lush garden is replete with rarities as well as fabulous design with tried and true plants. Many collectors’ gardens are a mish mash. His is lovely.
We’re happy to have Hosta ‘Hans’ in stock at Tower, and I’m glad Tony named such a great plant for such a great plantsman. One of the things I love about my garden is all the personal connections I have with the people who have made the plants. Walking the garden is like visiting friends every day when I see plants that bring me right back to sitting on a tour bus next to the person for whom it is named, chatting over breakfast, and talking about the exciting new plants that are in the pipeline. So as Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story.
Photos of Hans and his garden used by permission.