National Viola and Pansy Society Newsletter Autumn 1996

A Conversation with Mr Jackson.

A number of members have prefaced their letters to me with, "I used to obtain my plants from Jacksons ......" and go on to list favourite varieties, alas many of which are no longer with us. However, I am pleased to say that Mr Arthur Jackson and his wife Evelyn are very much alive and well. Prompted by John Powell, a member in Buxton, I ventured north to Kettleshume.

Arriving uninvited and unannounced, but bearing a bunch of viola and pansy blooms, I was most warmly welcomed in. Mr Jackson is 94 years of age, and at the sight of some blooms, a glint came to his eyes. Without hesitation, he named them all, many being of his own raising. His fingers moulded the blooms into perfect form. Meanwhile, Mrs Jackson prepared "Methodist Coffee", a wonderful beverage that owes rather more to a certain Captain Morgan than to John Wesley!

Nostalgia is an easy emotion in which to wallow, and yet Mr Jackson seemed all so interested in what was happening now; what are the new varieties? How big are the shows? I was shown photographs of stunning displays at Southport, including those staged by his father. My education was rapidly extended as I was told how a basket was put together and how a bloom could be staged on a board. The attention to detail is something that all of us who aspire to exhibit florist blooms should take careful note of. Weak or marked blooms were ruthlessly discarded, perfection for the public view was the rigorously maintained aim. I, for one, will certainly look more carefully at my staging as a result.

Having raised so many outstanding varieties, I was keen to ask about methods of hybridization, and again my education was extended. I use a fine brush and a small muslin bag. Mr Jackson, with utmost dexterity, showed me how to remove pollen on a knife blade and then tie up the petals to exclude unwanted insects; a revelation!

As I came to take my leave, I glanced at my watch; three hours had passed in the genial company and warm hospitality. I am sure that older members who remember the days when violas and pansies were appreciated by a much wider public will be glad to read that Mr and Mrs Jackson remain interested in not only the blooms but also those who grow them.

Autumn 1996

Editorial News Show Pansies Annual Show
Mr Jackson Scottish Shows National Collection King's Heath
Plant Distribution

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