"The beginning of the year 1840 was a terrible time in the life of George Jackman. He lost his wife, Mary, in January and his father, William, in February.
In twenty-five days, George and his 3-year-old son, George II, were alone.
The nursery became the center of their world."
February 12, 1869
On this day, the English nurseryman, pomologist, florist, and Clematis hybridizer George Jackman died at 68.
With multiple Georges in the family, George Jackman was always called George I.
I thought you'd enjoy learning about George - the man behind the ubiquitous Jackman Clematis.
The Jackman Clematis has large dark purple flowers with yellow centers.
And, just an FYI, you can prune the Jackman back in the fall without hurting next year's bloom.
So go ahead and include the Jackman Clematis in your end-of-the-season garden cleanup.
Now, George I and his brother Henry were born into a nurseryman's family.
In 1810, their father, William, founded Jackman Nursery on 150 acres in Woking ("Woe-king"), Surrey.
George I and Henry grew up learning the business alongside their dad.
By 1830, Willliam had turned the business over to his sons. After a few years, Henry decided he wasn't interested in running the struggling nursery, and he left it for George I.
In the fall of 1834, George married Mary Ann Freemont. He was 33 years old. In a little over three years, George II was born.
The beginning of the year 1840 was a terrible time in the life of George I.
He lost his wife, Mary, in January and his father, William, in February.
In twenty-five days, George I and his 3-year-old son, George II, were alone. The nursery became the center of their world.
The start of Clematis hybridizing began five years before George I's life took such a dramatic turn.
In 1835, about 35 miles from the Jackman Nursery, London's Pineapple Nursery, owned by John Andrew Henderson, created the first Clematis hybrid. It was called Clematis Hendersonii - no doubt, George I took notice.
When George II was 13, the plant explorer Robert Fortune brought Clematis lanuginosa ("LAN-you-jee-NO-sah") to England.
Native to China, the blooms on this Clematis were more significant than any ever seen before.
If Clematis blossoms were to be bred to get bigger, the lanuginosa was the linchpin.
By this point, George I employed 35 men and six boys at the Jackman Nursery.
George II shadowed every aspect of the business and grew to be a shrewd owner/operator.
As a young man, George II was energized at the thought of clematis hybridizing.
When he was just 21, George II crossed Fortune's lanuginosa with Hendersonii and the climber atrorubens.
In less than six months, they had 300 seedlings, and George Jackman II had an instant hit on his hands.
The plant was hardy; it quickly produced long-lasting impressive flowers, and the rootstock lasted for many years. The year was 1858, and Clematis Jackmanii (ii = "ee-eye") was born.
George II wrote:
"Seedlings about 300 — results of hybrids: very robust growers, abundant in flower of rich deep purple and maroon."
Clematis jackmanii received the Award of Garden Merit from The Royal Horticultural Society.
George II co-authored a book about the bloom with Thomas Moore, the Secretary of The Royal Horticultural Society, called Clematis as a Garden Flower.
George II and Thomas Moore dedicated the book to HRH Princess Mary, the Duchess of Teck. The Clematis was one of her favorite flowers.
When George I died on this day in 1869, he had raised his son and created a successful nursery. He also served as chapelwarden for his church - St. John's - for over two decades after losing his wife, Mary, aka Mrs. George Jackman.
The Gardener's Chronicle said George I died after a gout attack and was by all accounts a "beloved… kind-hearted, genial Christian." It went on to say that his "workmen (several of whom had been [with him] for 20, 30, or 40 years)" followed his coffin to the churchyard for burial.
In 1967, a Jackman descendant, Roland Jackman, sold the Jackman Nursery.