Horticulture Week Podcast

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A rose to remember 18th century Welsh black gardener, John Ystumllyn

Season 2, Ep. 5

We Too Built Britain's Zehra Zaidi and Harkness Roses' David White have launched the John Ystumllyn rose, named after the first well-recorded black Welsh gardener and believed to be the first rose named after an ethnic minority Briton.


Horticulture Week editor Matthew Appleby interviews the pair about the new rose and it's potential impact. Zaidi’s Horticulture Week article in July 2020 on John Ystumllyn created a groundswell of support for a new rose. 


Horticulture Week advised on finding a rose grower and in helping promote the project.


Ystumllyn was an 18th centiry Welshman of uncertain origin, possibly a victim of the Atlantic slave trade who was taken by the Wynn family to its Ystumllyn estate in Criccieth, where he became a gardener.


Zaidi says: "It came about because of a lack of diversity in gardening;" the history about minorities in gardening might not be remembered, so Zaidi approached HortWeek and the story was shared, people called for a rose, "before we knew it we had a campaign".


"The representation element matters. To our knowledge there has never been a rose named after an ethnic minority Briton."


She adds that the rose is "a symbol of friendship, love and community because that's what John's story represented.. and a homage to the gardening community. I hope this brings people together."


The rose was chosen from 40,000 seedlings and is a  compact floribunda shrub, developed from eight years breeding, with a citrus fragrance, flowering from late May until the first frosts. It is suitable for pots, beds and border and will be at Harkness' exhibit at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023 and in garden centres from autumn 2022.


Zaidi concludes: "Horticulture has been joyous, such a welcoming community. This campaign shows we take each other for granted, sometimes you just have to ask and build connections together."


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