Walters Gardens, Inc. has built quite a reputation for offering the best new perennials on the market. Working closely with a broad network of hybridizers worldwide, we typically add about 100 new varieties annually to our main listing of over 1,000 perennials. In addition to acquiring plants from outside sources, our own team of hybridizers here at WGI also works diligently to develop new and improved varieties of our own. Our entire staff is also encouraged to watch for sports, both as a quality control measure and as a way to find new varieties.
Hans Hansen in a field of his hybrid Hibiscus 'Berry Awesome'
Meet Hans Hansen, one of our resident plant experts and head of the WGI hybridizing team. Hans is well-known throughout the industry for his truly new and improved hosta introductions, though his interests in hybridizing encompass a number of genera.
From the young age of three or four years old, Hans Hansen can remember planting onions in his family's garden. He would ask family members for plants as birthday or Christmas gifts. Not your average kid! He must have known early on what he would do with his life given these early signs. As a teenager, Hans hybridized Asiatic lilies, working to develop doubles, pollen-free varieties, and those with dark patterned throats. As his hybridizing interests expanded, he began working with hostas extensively and it is that work for which he is best known in the plant community today. In 1997, he introduced his first two hostas: 'Pandora's Box' and 'Fire and Ice'.
Over the past decade or more, Hans has introduced about 20 hostas through Shady Oaks Nursery in his home state of Minnesota. Walters Gardens, Inc. is proud to offer a number of Hans' introductions. In addition to hostas, Hans also works to hybridize plants in a number of other genera including Baptisia and Paeonia, which he finds especially challenging.
Hans is especially excited to offer you his series of DECADENCE® Baptisias, which are the result of over a decade of his breeding work. DECADENCE® Baptisias were hybridized and selected specifically for their shorter, more compact habit and unique flower coloration. All members of this series are produced from cuttings and will bloom the first year. They have terrific impulse appeal at retail. We currently offer 'Blueberry Sundae', 'Cherries Jubilee', 'Dutch Chocolate', 'Lemon Meringue', 'Pink Truffles', 'Sparkling Sapphires', and 'Vanilla Cream' as part of our Proven Winners Perennials program.
Chris Meyer became interested in hybridizing daylilies in his backyard in the early 1990s when he made the initial cross that eventually resulted in the introduction of 'Going Bananas' in 2006. According to Chris, only a few seedlings out of a thousand are worthy of introduction. 'Going Bananas' was certainly worth the time and effort — 14 years from start to finish! An improvement over 'Happy Returns', it has a similar petite size but produces larger flowers that bloom continuously and open fully after cool nights. 'Going Bananas' is a top-selling Proven Winners Perennial.