Seven Levels of Hosta Gardeners

funnthsun z7A - Southern VAJanuary 26, 2014

The following was posted by dhaven on 5-25-11 and now resurrected for our enjoyment. Thanks so much for originally posting this, dhaven:

"I've found that there are casual gardeners, those who have a few hostas, generally in a ring around their trees, but who don't care what variety they have, and aren't really interested in acquiring more varieties. These are the folks who will tell you proudly that they have BOTH the plain green and the ones with the white edge.

Then there are the more focused gardeners who have decided to make hostas a more major part of their gardens. These people generally amass a collection of as many as 20 hosta varieties, and they often know the names of some of the varieties. They often have multiple plants of the same variety, again often featured as rings around trees or along walks and drives. All their plants tend to be of medium size, mainly because they are unaware that hostas come in any other size, and that is what's available locally.

The third group is the budding hostaholic. These are the people who have, often after years of having a hosta here and there, discovered that hostas come in all colors, patterns, and sizes, and they start to feel the need to gather together as many as they can. Often they will add 30 or 40 hostas their first year, then start digging up lawn and adding beds so they can add more hostas next year. Many wind up with a collection of 100-200 varieties in a fairly short time. These people label their plants, often make maps, and can usually identify at least half their plants without looking at the label. These gardens generally have lots of medium and large hostas, with very few minis.

The fourth group is composed of the major hostaholics who have 200+ varieties, know the names of all their plants, and lust after every new hosta they see. They tend to be somewhat restricted in their purchases due primarily to lack of garden space, but regularly add new varieties, often digging up and giving away their more common varieties to do so. These people can often speak knowledgably about the heritage of any given hosta, and may have a passing familiarity with some of the hybridizers. They belong to at least one hosta club, and travel to local and national conventions. Their hostas all look very good, and grow nicely, and they have the full range of sizes, from giants to minis.

The fifth group is the hard core hosta maniac. These people have 500+ varieties, know the name, lineage, and breeding potential of every single one of them, and often dabble in hybridizing a few of their own hostas. They have extensive hosta libraries, and are easily identified by the lack of grass on their properties, and also by the lack of any plant other than hostas. In my area of the country, 500 varieties is what is known as 'a real nice start'. This group is where you are likely to find the really beautiful specimen plants, because these people not only love hostas, they know how to grow them to perfection. Minis are often a special feature of this group, and there are usually multiple plants of a given variety.

This leads to the sixth group, the collectors. These people are in a whole seperate class. They often have 800-1500 hostas, and can rattle off all pertinent information about any of their plants at the drop of a hat--whether you want them to or not. As a rule, they love having visitors to their gardens, and expect that said visitors will treat them with the deference and respect that is engendered by the amassing of large amounts of plants. The collector is interested only in the newer varieties, and particularly loves to spend lots of money to get something that nobody else (except the hybridizer) has in their garden. Most collectors seem to favor the larger or showier varieties, and you will find a preponderance of variegated hostas in these gardens. There will seldom be more than one plant of any variety in the garden of a true collector.

The seventh group is the hybridizer. These people often worked their way through the various levels, then at some point decided that it would be fun to create their own hostas. They are often fixated on streakers, and will spend vast amounts of money to obtain a really nice one. They have lost all interest in the common, commercially available hostas, and buy and trade only with other hybridizers to obtain new genetics. They rarely open their gardens to visitors, because who has time for that? But it is thanks to some of these people that all the new, wonderful hostas become available, so they are to be appreciated."

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miketropic

sounds about right to me..this can be said for a number of plant groups from palms to begonias. is it possible to be part of multiple groups lol?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:18AM
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miketropic

sounds about right to me..this can be said for a number of plant groups from palms to begonias. is it possible to be part of multiple groups lol?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:19AM
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jan_on zone 5b

Thanks for bringing this back funnthsun (and d haven for the original post.) Most of us will identify with a place on this list! This summer I shall attempt to reach the next milestone by getting to the 200 mark - after digging up some grass of course. I will be 'major hostaholic' - something to report in the Xmas letter lol!
Jan

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:44AM
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don_in_colorado

LOL right there with you, Jan. Addition of hostas by subtraction of lawn = Don also reaching 200+ hostas this season as well.

Looking forward to it!

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:04PM
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hostasmith(5)

So, is it possible to skip through the first six phases and go straight to seven? I went from about 12 that I knew the names of a few, to over 75 and now know the lineage of a lot of them, to growing seedlings and thinking about what I have that I could hybridize next year.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 9:56PM
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don_in_colorado

LOL Devon, I'd say you're pretty firmly in Group 3 for the moment (as am I), but certainly are aspiring to higher levels. That seems to be normal, and we usually settle on a comfortable pace to get to those higher phases, after we sprint out of our starting gates. Nothing wrong with looking ahead, though! : )

Group 3 (With eyes on Group 4 this season),
Don B.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 10:10PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

Pace yourself. You are in it for the long haul. No cure for what ails you in this case.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:22PM
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squirejohn zone4 VT

I'm in the third group with a little over 100 varieties. Although I plan on expanding hosta beds I'll stick to the varieties I already have; too many "look alikes" for my clouded vision.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 5:54AM
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zkathy(7a NC)

I didn't realize it was a progressive disease. That makes the thought I had about hybridizing the slippery slope. I am firmly in group three and would like to stay there.
Kathy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:15AM
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hostasmith(5)

You would like to stay there? That's funny! Kind of like saying you are going to stay out of the strip clubs, yet hang out with the Beibs! You might not want to return to this forum, ever again!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:47AM
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HostaDoc(6a)

Good luck staying at level 3 Kathy! Unfortunately it is inevitable that you will make the progression to superstar hybridizer. And you will have lots of fun along the way!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:15AM
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beverlymnz4

I think I went too quickly from level 3 to 7. I have seedlings growing but my labels are still in a box in the basement.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 11:49AM
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mikgag Z5b NS Canada

I'm a 4 borderline on tipping into level 5...

Who am I kidding?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:51PM
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don_in_colorado

"I didn't realize it was a progressive disease"-- ZKathy

I didn't either. Too late!! Heh heh heh heh heh...

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:35PM
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zkathy(7a NC)

Well,
It's not my only addiction and I'm managing the rest of them OK.
Kathy

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:42PM
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don_in_colorado

It's OK Kathy; It's not a bad thing. There is no 12-step program, because, who the heck wants to quit hostas?? : )

Don B.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:55PM
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JANE100(WNYZ6)

I think I'm a no. 3, with about 20 planted and about 35 waiting in the garage for spring. Planted about 65-70 at the SPCA this past fall and they have 3 more nice "islands" I wish I could plant. Unfortunately, they are in the "dog walk" area and the dog walkers think nothing of letting the animals "fertilize" those areas. Besides they are moving to a larger facility in the next yr. or so, and I will have to ask my Hosta club to help me dig them up and transplant them at the new facility about 15 miles away. But my wish lists are growing every day. Pretty soon my family & friends will start avoiding me due do my "addiction". Already plan on pulling my pavers in the front lawn to extend my bed.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:51PM
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ninamarie(4Ont.)

I'm firmly in Group 4, where I plan to rest. Unlike most of you,. I went slowly - aperiod of about 15 years. I broke down and counted how many I have last fall, and I've just gone over the 300 mark. That's enough.
That's enough for the nonce

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:16AM
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bernd ny zone5

You can always curtail your addiction by letting your back and knees have a say too. Mine refuse to take part in any digging up more lawn. Bernd

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:31AM
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mountainy man z8 Ireland

I fall into group 3, I only had four or five before last autumn when I discovered the world of hosta and have become a little obsessed lol.

I am finalising a list to order soon and have some questions so I'll start a new thread for that.

I am interested in getting some seed growing but I don't have any of the lights and stuff so will have to look into this for next winter.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:43PM
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esox48(4/MN)

I don't believe I'm a member of any of those groups.

First, I don't know how many hostas I have, so that makes categorizing difficult. I also don't know how many varieties. Neither ot those numbers interests me at all.

What interests me is the beauty the hostas bring to the yard. I tend to believe the more hostas, the more beauty. And I love duplicates and triplicates and quadruplicates of the greatest hostas.

And I hybridize. Of course I'm interested in streakers but also cool plain ones.

I think the categories have a lot of truth to them, but I suppose I'm just a square peg that doesn't fit into any of the round holes.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:48AM
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dhaven(z5 IA)

I'm delighted that people are enjoying this old posting again. I only rarely check this forum these days, so it's sheer luck that I saw this, and it's brightened my day. Thanks, funnthsun!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:00PM
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bernd ny zone5

mountainy_man, from now on it will always happen that you make this list in winter, then order these hostas, but thereafter you notice that other nursery and order some more, then in summer and early fall you visit nurseries and buy more. Then the next winter you will promise not to buy anymore hostas, but then buy 35 anyway over the year. That's how it happened to me. Now I have those 100 seedlings growing in my basement, but that is not much, others have thousands.....
Bernd

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:37PM
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mountainy man z8 Ireland

Yes Bernd, it seems that I'm on that slippery slope of no return................

Luckily/unluckily hosta nurseries in Ireland are like hens teeth.

The thought of culling seedlings terifies me lol. how can people throw away their babies!

1 Like    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 8:40PM
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hostacats(zone 3b)

Cool, I don't know how I got to this old thread. I just clicked on a link and here it was. I started reading it and I am impressed by it. I'd say I'm in the category 3-4. Probably moreso 3 but always wanted more fancier hostas out there.

michelle

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:33PM
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DelawareDonna(7A)

Unless I can convince the condominium association to break ground for a new hosta garden which I will gladly plant, I'll be a low level hosta grower for the rest of my life (sigh). At least I have no duplicates and my hosta are pretty fancy smanzy for the neighborhood!!

DD

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 9:56PM
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BungalowMonkeys(6-VA)

That is funny you reposted this. It was one of the very first posts on this forum I ever read. Forgot what I was googling when it came up. My hosta numbers are in the third group hostaholic, but still very much a noob to gardening. I'm at 42 varietys at month 2. If all goes as planned will finish next season out as a major hostaholic. Hopefully gaining what knowledge is needed by that time, so each plant makes it and thrives.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:10PM
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gardener2b(5)

just beginning but if anyone wants to b an enabler will gladly accept any and all hosta plants

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:23PM
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hostacats(zone 3b)

I actually don't know how many hosta varieties that I have, that's something I never counted.........hmmmmm now that's something I have to do. I do know though that I now have over 300 again. I lost a few last year that were under the pine trees because I was sick and did not water and look after my gardens very well....thus hostas neglected in dry area hostas die!! :( :( They were all pretty much unidentified ones, with a few names varieites that did not make it.

michelle

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 12:10AM
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leafwatcher(zone 5)

I appear to be a group 2 and a half !!!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 10:02PM
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hostarhodo

There is another group, the collector who downsized, took a few favorites with them and wonders what the old garden looks like. And of course do their best to ignore looking at hosta when they find themselves at a garden centre. That's me.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 3:30PM
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Moccasin(z9aMobileAL)

In some ways, knowing I'll not be moving again is very liberating. I can do what I want to the max, and what I want is to make my hosta happy. Seems to be a full time job.

I have a count of unique species and as soon as ILoveToGrow shows up again, I'll reveal it....but it is an unstable number, shall we say. Subject to change.

Don, Jan, you are two who need to be initiated into the 200 Club this winter. When you buy that No. 200 hosta, you must put the number on the tag with the name. We'll have a party.

My #200 is Sparkler, from Naylor Creek in 2012, the year I went ape over hosta. Haven't looked back. Happy as a bug with my ___ hosta. NOT counting duplicates, which I have backups for many many of my fragrants.

My strategy is to make it hard to tell how many hosta I have. Which does not work too well with my DH who has a formula for "density calculations" and has come up with a pretty good estimate, hide them though I might. But I cannot take ONE picture of Garden of The White Dove. I managed to add 3 x 40 feet more to my 25 x 100 garden though, by installing a lattice shade screen. No grass at all in my garden except for liriope used as a companion plant.
This is about the best I can show you, even with some open spaces, DH came up with a close estimate....he says 500.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:11PM
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hostacats(zone 3b)

Moccasin you have 500 hosta?? Sweet!! I don't know how many varieties I have I'll have to count mine. I just know that I have probably over 300 now with all hostas. But I don't have too much more room!! I see a great opportunity in the front yard that is what I call the crap garden. Just this and that's overgrown extras, a stupid Virginia creeper that was there that I don't manage well and it goes ALL over, and yes quak grass!! I need roundup there which I already did. Pull everything out all invasive flowers I don't like, get rid of Virginia creeper cut up some trees so I can get under, plant HOSTAS!!! AND add lots of mulch and keep under control. That's my goal, the thing is I hate working in the front yard where everybody can see........I know that's a weird thing, but I'd rather be in the backyard where everything is nice!! Hee hee

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:24PM
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funnthsun z7A - Southern VA

Ahhhh, Mocc, you really are a professional, LOL.

Notice that she said that 500 was her hubby's "close estimate", not that she agreed with that estimate and she never confirmed it. I'd bet she has 600 hostas by now. What say you, Mocc? Give it up! How many, REALLY?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 10:24PM
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don_in_colorado

Mocc, is that a statue of a puppy going pee-pee on one of your hosta pots??

Don B.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 12:14AM
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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

Definitely fall into group 3, as well, although this year I'm nearly doubling what I've had up to this point to get there. Decided to just embrace my addiction and now my back is paying for it.

Can't wait to get them all in the ground and then tally up the total at end of season. Now if I could just STOP buying more.... It's a sickness, really.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:13PM
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bernd ny zone5

You can get onto that slippery slope much faster when you grow hosta seedlings over winter. You can hybridize or buy hybridized seeds in auction or from sites like Hosta Works. After culling you will have a lot of interesting seedlings left over. To get to that very high level, you need to sign over to hostas, have large property, spend all your time on this hobby and get your DW or DH involved as source of cheap labor.
Bernd

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:07PM
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hostacats(zone 3b)

Bernd my DH doesn't get involved with my hostas....he just looks at me when I'm in a store as I'm eyeing all the hostas and says whats the difference, they are all green to me......so no he doesn't help.

lol

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:36PM
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sherrygirl zone5

I am a 3 newbie, my own classification. Hosta ring around a tree? Never! 20 or so under a limbed up evergreen, then oops forgot to plant under that other limbed up evergreen, lets see, 20 more. Oooh, look at that spot in the shade next to the house! Maybe 6 there! That's been the last few years. Added 3 more under one of those limbed up trees this spring. Looks like i am on my way! Thats my new Pauls Glory keeping my Sea Dream happy.

Sherry

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:34PM
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bragu_DSM 5

like a phoenix, this thread resurfaces.

No. 98

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 3:37PM
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DelawareDonna Zone 7A

I'm in the "6th group." The hard core maniac who must move in order to expand his/her collection.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2015 at 3:52PM
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posierosie_zone7a__

I am#3. I have been reading the hosta forum a while, but did not invest in anything last year. Now, the BIG ones are calling! No interest in the mini 's.....

    Bookmark   February 14, 2015 at 6:27PM
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almosthooked

I am wondering who will moved up in the # list from 2014 to the 2015 season ? Have you all tried to get your order lists and want lists under control and then just find a couple more just because hosta ... I have a couple of these I may have to close my eyes and just order. So far I think I may still be in #3 with slightly more then the 200 but still under the 400 mark. Getting to the point when someone asks, I just say lots

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 9:28AM
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josephines123 z5 ON Canada

I have moved up! When I joined I had 67 hostas, now I am up to 123. I lost 15 last year (all potted) and would have been up but...don't have a numbers goal at all....the more the merrier!... but I do have space constrains which require some forethought for placement. One solution is to leave some in pots which can be placed anywhere I have 6"-10" of bare ground showing, lol.

The descriptions above put me between three and four categories if you ignore numbers. I don't yet have a solid hybridizing knowledge-base but am learning about significant hostas and their beginnings/hybridizers.

I know all my hostas by sight and regardless of how many I amass, I will always know their names...it's something in me, same goes for my other perennials. It starts the minute I touch a hosta at a nursery...I may forget what I had for dinner last Thursday, but hosta names? Never! Lol they are my "other" children, all of them my "babies" regardless of size. I know there are many like me out there!... You think?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 10:56AM
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DelawareDonna Zone 7A

I'm one of them!! Can't remember why I went upstairs, but I don't forget my hosta's names. Maybe because the names are so unique.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 11:16AM
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hostatakeover swMO(6a)

I'm only at 150 but the goal is to get to 200 over the next few years. I'm redoing the border on my big Hosta garden this winter and I'm making it large enough to accommodate 50 more.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 12:24PM
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windchime2011 MA_Z6a

Wow!! This was a fun read! I remember seeing the posting once before, but I was probably in the under-200 mark at the time. I'm now at 650 or 675 -- not counting what I may have lost this crazy winter -- won't be seeing the ground any time soon with 5 feet of snow on the ground.....

Thing is, I have no interest in hybridizing or getting that technical. But I _LOVE_ hostas so very much. LOVE looking at catalogs (online etc) from A to Z. Spend hours taking photos during the warm months.

Truth be told, only about 350 of mine are in the ground, the rest are still in pots, waiting and hoping to get planted....... And YES, each year I yank out large shrubs and any other plants I don't absolutely love to make room for more hosta!!!!!

I am surprized to learn there are not far more folks on the forum in possession of 500+. Maybe those folks don't have time to get online and pussy-foot around!! Hee-hee!

Best wishes to all hosta admirers regardless of count!!! Enjoy!!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 4:47PM
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windchime2011 MA_Z6a

Clarification....

I meant to say 650 different varieties, some of which I have multiples of.....

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 4:53PM
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beverlymnz4

I began hybridizing last year but probably have only 100 named variety in my garden (I lost track at 70). I have a small yard and like so many plants. I could dig up more sod but I find I need a year or two to arrange things before I did another section, to rearrange things etc. I think its more of a continuum people move up and down. Somewhere in there is the spot where people realize they have more plants than gardens and they have to dig them up, spread them out and give some away. There was quite a thread on that a year or two ago. We should dig that one up for these newbies who are planting 5 foot hostas 2 feet apart. Oh, and my labels are still in the basement. I think I'll take them out next weekend and look at them.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2015 at 6:00PM
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