Breeder Profile: Mildred Seaver

Mildred Seaver with her Hosta 'Humpback Whale'

According to her daughter, Muriel, Mildred Seaver’s philosophy on life was that “every day comes with the chance of surprise and a possible miracle.”  An incredible attitude to have considering that she lived through the Great Depression.  Mildred lived her life with an irrepressible zeal that affected everyone who met her. 

Though hostas were certainly her passion, it was the friends she met through her gardening that meant the most to her.  She considered the hosta to be a “friendship plant”, created to be shared among gardening friends.

Mildred began hybridizing hostas in 1978 and during her lifetime she registered 95 distinctive cultivars including some well known selections like ‘Spilt Milk’, ‘Allan P. McConnell’, ‘Komodo Dragon’, ‘Queen of the Seas’, and 'Humpback Whale'.  She was known in hosta circles as the “Queen Bee” or “Queen of Hostas”. 

Her hybridizing style was more artistic than methodical—she let bees do all the work.  The hostas she wanted the bees to pollinate, she would allow to flower.  Those she did not had the flowers removed before they matured.  “Bees are much better breeders than I am”, Mildred once said.  “They know which hostas to take pollen from and which to pollinate.”

Mildred was one of the founding members of the New England Hosta Society.  She was the only living person ever featured on the cover of The Hosta Journal (a magazine of the American Hosta Society) in the Spring of 1986.  She was also the first winner of the Eunice Fischer Distinguished Hybridizer Merit Award in 2006. 

Mildred Seaver passed away on March 6, 2011 at the age of 98.  She is survived by her son, Charlie Seaver Jr. who is also a hosta hybridizer, her daughter, Muriel Seaver Brown, four grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. 

Varieties Mentioned in this Article