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Our goal, as a family operated nursery, is to offer the newest and best varieties of Hostas in Europe and to always be as up to date as possible. This means we are constantly searching for new varieties all over the world. It is no longer a question of if there are too many Hosta varieties but how we can handle them all. We have limited ourselves to offering “only” 1001 varieties retail and about 300 wholesale. This means that with the constant introduction of new varieties we have to eliminate some of the less interesting or poorer growing Hostas. Through the years we have learned a bit about Hostas but cannot do without the help of our customers who keep us informed about the conditions of their Hostas and their wishes for new ones. All things combined help us create an interesting catalogue of Hostas for collectors, garden lovers, and colleagues.
Our nursery was started in the early sixties by Marco’s father, Willem Fransen, who grew cut flowers for the flower auction in Aalsmeer. He grew many different Chrysanthemum, Tulips and Carnations until around 1980 when he started adding more and more perennials. By growing Astilbe and Peaonia it was possible to cut the flowers and sell the plants. Soon, the first Hostas appeared in the nursery and were grown mainly for exportation to the US.
When Marco completed his studies he joined his father in the nursery business and the number of Hosta varieties we were growing increased dramatically. In the early nineties there were not many retail Hosta nurseries in Europe. We used a few good sources in England and Germany to get new Hostas and it was after our first visit to Ann and Roger Bowden in Devon that we really wanted a specialized Hosta nursery that also sells retail.
The first Hosta we discovered was a variegated sport of Hosta ‘Halcyon’ and by combining the name of the road we live on, the Paradijsweg, and Joyce’s name we called it Hosta ‘Paradise Joyce’. This was back in 1992 but even after many other introductions we still consider this one of our best. We do not see ourselves as hybridizers but working with a small staff allows us to select plants that behave differently and many have proven to be worthwhile introductions. Over the years a series of ‘Paradise’ Hostas have been developed but we also decided not always to stick to the name ‘Paradise’.
In 1995 we visited the US for the first time and did a major tour of most of the well-known Hosta growers. We will never forget our first impression of the gardens of Van and Shirley Wade in Ohio. In 1996 we went to our first American Hosta Society Convention that was held in Portland Oregon that year. Meeting hundreds of Hosta lovers in one hotel and seeing many Hosta gardens was our way of having a holiday then. There, we met Jack and Gary of Naylor Creek Nursery and became good friends. They started to offer most of our plants and other European Hostas in the U.S. and made it possible for us to offer the newest and rarest Hostas from the U.S. in Europe. To this day this relationship has been very successful for both nurseries.
In 2002 Marco and Joyce took over the nursery from Marco’s father, Willem, who is still active at the nursery and the many plant sales we do. Through the combination of plant sales and our website we have been able to reach many people in Europe and it has made it possible to increase the number of Hosta varieties we grow and also the number of customers we serve.
Copyright © 2022 Kees Henzen
Fransen Hostas, Joyce & Marco FransenParadijsweg 52461 TK Ter Aar, The Netherlands