HISTORY OF THE GREATER OZARK HOSTA SOCIETY
by: Tom Micheletti
FOUNDED September 22, 1996 by Dr. Bill and Judy Roston, Ernest and Mary Lou Braswell, Oscar Cross, and other Hosta lovers. Their goal, “to foster and promote knowledge of and interest in the genus Hosta”.
On February 17, 1997 they held the inaugural meeting of the 24 charter members. In June was the “First Annual Hosta Show” at Northtown Mall. Hostas were sold and a cut-leaf display was shown to the public. By the end of 1997 membership was over 100.
1998 featured the first Hosta Plant Auction and Pot Luck Supper. Bob Childress and Mary Lou Braswell investigated the possibility of building a Hosta display garden at Nathanael Greene park.
Bob Childress started a four year run as president in 1999. Under his leadership the Bylaws were revised and finalized. Discussion started on hosting the Midwest Regional Hosta Convention in 2005. The first GOHS website was launched. The Springfield Zoo was chosen as an alternative site for a Hosta display garden. The first trial garden at the Zoo is destroyed by geese.
In 2000 the membership reached an all-time high of over 250 members. A new Hosta display garden is completed at the entrance to the Zoo. Oscar Cross suggests building a large, formal planting at another location. A very successful Hosta cut-leaf show is held-one of only nine in the country sanctioned by the American Hosta Society.
June 2, 2001 was the official dedication of the Close Memorial Gardens at Nathanael Greene Park. Site selection, dirt work, and bed construction begins on the new Hosta display garden. Dr. Bill Roston trucks in several tons of rocks from his “Garden of Dreams” in Sparta. Bill and Bob Childress build rock borders around the beds and fill them with two feet of mulch to plant the Hostas in. (In 2011, a soil test indicated perfect soil for Hostas).
In 2002 the Hosta display garden becomes the 3rd garden (after the Lily and Rose gardens) to be added to Close Memorial Gardens. Bob Childress, Bill Roston and a few GOHS members install the irrigation system, fencing, and plants. Oscar Cross and Bill Roston donate hundreds of Hostas.
Lee Coates takes over and rebuilds the website in 2003; becomes GOHS.org. Bob Childress and Bill Roston enlarge the Hosta garden and build a waterfall in October 2004. Bill again brings load after load of rocks from Sparta and Bob drives a front-endloader from work to move them around. It is amazing that two men in their late 60s accomplished this huge project. Ernie Braswell finishes an incredible eight year run as editor of “Sum and Substance”, the GOHS newsletter.
The terraced beds around the new waterfall were filled with Hostas and annuals in the spring of 2005. This beautiful garden will soon become the most popular spot in town for weddings. The GOHS hosted the Midwest Regional Hosta Convention with tours of members’ gardens, the newly expanded Hosta display garden, and guest speakers. Lee Coates assumes the role of editor of “Sum and Substance”.
2006 through 2010 were fairly quiet with meetings, garden tours, and the annual Hosta Plant Auction and Pot Luck Supper tradition continuing.
In 2011 Tom Lakowske and a team of GOHS members renovated the ten year old Hosta display garden at Close Memorial Park. The garden is divided into two distinct areas; an event garden for weddings and parties, and a stroll garden for viewing hundreds of hosta varieties. This was accomplished by raising rock walls, building an arbor, and planting ahedge of Nandina Domestica. Other improvements include new gravel paths, an enlarged formal entry, hundreds of additional Hostas, new family photo spots, expanded beds, and over 200 daylilies in a sunny corner.
The goal in 2013 was to achieve national recognition for the Hosta garden at Close Memorial Park by earning American Hosta Society Display Garden accreditation. We did it, with lots of hard work by many.
Heartfelt thanks to Dr. Bill Roston and Bob Childress, the creative genius and muscle behind the GOHS and the Hosta Display Garden at Close Memorial Park. Special thanks to Ernie and Mary Lou Braswell for their time and effort to chronicle the early years of the GOHS as editor for “Sum and Substance” and GOHS secretary. And finally, thank you to Joyce Charles who archived the minutes and newsletters through the years.