Like most first loves, 'Frances Williams' holds a special place in the hearts of many hosta lovers because she was among the first variegated forms introduced. Named for the breeder (who has 17 named hostas to her credit), this variety was registered in 1986. Ten years later, 'Frances Williams' was the fifth most popular hosta cultivar as rated by members of the American Hosta Society. Twenty five years on, she is still as popular as ever. 'Frances Williams' is a beautiful large variety, growing to around 50 to 60cm (24 to 28in) tall by 1 metre (39in) wide, the large blue-green leaves each with wide yellow margins can easily reach dinner-plate proportions. The leaves are thick and quilted and are heart-shaped, the flowers which are pale lilac-white follow on tall spires in summer. Hostas are creatures of the shade. Variegated selections such as Frances Williams will brighten up the darkest corner in the shady garden but it can tolerate some sun if the soil is kept moist. They perform best in a fertile, reasonably moist site, but if they are not so lucky as to receive the best planting location, they usually do very well anyway. Depending on the size of the plant when mature, hostas should be planted 2 to 3 feet apart. They make excellent groundcover for shady areas even though they do die to the ground in the winter.
The Royal Horticultural Society has recognised its outstanding excellence by giving it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM). It is also a winner of The American Hosta Society Distinguished Merit Award.
Sowing: Sow in late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn. Seed is best sown in spring at 10°C (50°F), covering with a thin layer of peaty compost. The compost should be kept slightly moist, but not wet at all times. Germination is slow and irregular, between 30 and 90 days Prick out each seedling as it becomes large enough to handle, transplant into 7.5cm (3in) pots or trays. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out in the early summer. Space 30cm (12in) apart.
Cultivation: Grow in fertile, moist but well-drained soil with shelter from cold, dry winds. Best in slightly acid or neutral soils; it will grow in alkaline soils if enriched but shallow, chalky soils can cause leaves to yellow. Partial shade is best but it can tolerate some sun if the soil is kept moist. Mulch in spring. Hostas respond very favourably to fertilisation, but like most perennials, over doing it will lead to weak growth. Best results can be achieved by fertilising in a ring around the plant just as the leaves are emerging in the spring. Hostas usually should not be divided too often as it takes a few years growth before plants attain their full size and form.
Plant Uses: City/Courtyard Gardens, Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Arranging, Flowers Borders and Beds, Ground Cover, Patio/Container Plants or Under-planting shrubs and trees.
Nomenclature: The species sieboldiana is named for the German physician and botanist Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796‚1866) who sparked general interest in hostals in the early 1800s after he returned to the Netherlands with several specimens he had collected over time during his long stint as a physician in Nagasaki for the Dutch East India Company. The cultivar Frances Williams is named for Mrs Frances Ropes Williams (1883-1969) of Winchester Massachusetts, who spotted and quickly obtained the first known specimen when it appeared in a field of H. sieboldiana at Bristol Nurseries in Connecticutt, in 1936. Mrs. Williams was a devoted hosta enthusiast and founding member of the American Hosta Society; she bred and named many introductions developed in her private garden. Her yard was a scant third of an acre shaded by large nearby trees and the ground was rather damp. When she discovered how well hostas thrived where sun-loving perennials would not, she went a bit, well, overboard, so that her third-acre plot lent her an international reputation She named the variety 'Yellow Edge,' being not vain enough to name it for herself, while a Des Moines Iowa nurseryman turned her name for it into Latin as 'aureus marginata' which was soon amended to aureo-marginata.
In the very early 1960s, Mrs. Williams sent a root to George R. Robinson of the Oxford University Botanic Garden. He not long after displayed the plant during a botanical lecture, and having forgotten it had been named 'Yellow Edge,' named it in honour of the woman who discovered and cultivated the first one. He published his lecture in 1963, and slowly the name he selected came to be preferred, being as it was an honour richly deserved by a tireless promoter of hostas.
|Packet Size||25 Seeds|
|Average Seed Count||No|
|Common Name||Plantain Lily|
|Other Common Names||Other|
|Flowers||Pale Lilac / White in Summer|
|Natural Flower Time||No|
|Foliage||Green, Grey/Silver and Pale Yellow.|
|Spread||to 1m (39in) in 2 – 5 years|
|Time to Harvest||No|
|Position||Partial Shade / Shade|
|Aspect||East, West or North facing. Sheltered|
|Time to Sow||No|