Alex SummersWednesday, June 07, 2006
In 1967 Alex Summers was turning the crank of a mimeograph machine inside the little office of the American Penstemon Society. He had been lured by some friends for the job. It ocurred to him that he did not like penstemons nor was he interested in publishing a journal on them. So he founded the American Hosta Society in the next year. He has not looked back. The AHS is one of the healthiest of the American plant organizations and their journal, The Hosta Journal, is a glossy publication, thick and full of useful information and illustrated with full colour photographs of hostas at their peak. The once a year national conventions are attended by hosta enthusiasts from all over the world. In the 1992 convention in Columbus, Ohio I met Alex for the first time. It took me a while to figure out that his trademark mumble camouflaged intelligence, erudition and garden knowledge second to none. He took me under his wing and gave me advice that I have never forgotten and always apply. He said:
"A garden must have three important elements. They are elevation, shade and water. And you must make sure you can hear it."
"It takes a year to plan and design a garden. You need a year to build it. You wait three years for it to mature. On the 6th year you enjoy it. In the seventh it declines. You start from scratch on the 8th." I photographed Alex in his farm in Bridgeville, Delaware. At the time his charming wife, Gene was alive. Alex here poses with a leaf of Hosta 'Aurora Borealis'. He insisted that Hosta 'Frances Williams' was this one and no other.
American Hosta Society