The Jackman Nursery was founded by William Jackman (1763-1840) in 1810 on 50 acres of land at St. Johns, Woking, Surrey, UK. It was inherited by two of his sons, George and Henry in 1830, ten years before William died. This partnership did not prosper and Henry went on his way.
George Jackman (1801-1869) was the outstanding nurseryman among his brothers and he lent his name to the nursey which is now familiar to us. The 1851 Census shows him as a widower employing 35 men and 6 boys on 90 acres of land.
George Jackman II (1837-1887) was the first son of the first George. George junior was prosperous and always had an eye for business. The nursery did not specialise only in clematis, but also trees, roses and shrubs. It appears that the original nursery land was sold for house building around the time of George junior's death and the business moved to a new site.
Mr Henderson of Pineapple Nursery, St John's Wood, London is credited with the first succesful attempt at clematis hybridising when he raised Clematis hendersonii (now C. x eriostemon) in 1835. It was not long before the Jackman nursery joined in. In July 1858, George II, then aged 21, and his father, aged 57, set about a programme of hybridising clematis. From their first batch of about 300 seedings, Clematis Jackmanii was chosen. It was an instant success and was awarded a First Class Certificate by the RHS Floral Committee in August 1863. Many other hybrids followed, frequently named after influential people who patronised the Jackman nursery.
In 1872, George Jackman II collaborated with Thomas Moore to publish The Clematis as a Garden Flower devoted entirely to the genus. A second, updated, edition was published in 1877.
Arthur George (1866-1926) took over the nursery when George II died in 1887; he had been in the business for five years having entered it at age 16. In 1898 he was joined by Percy (1873-1934) aged 25. Percy had been working at another nursery in Maidstone, Kent, to gain experience. This was a time of more hybridising from which some forms survive.
The nursery survived the problems of the first world war as a going concern. When Arthur became ill in 1923 George Rowland Jackman (1902-1976), his son, his took over the business side of the nursery. When Percy died in 1934, Rowland - as he was known - was left in sole charge of the nursery until 1967 when it was sold on (though he continued in a non-executive capacity for another five years). Rowland was a workaholic and his nursery was his obsession. Although he did not share his forefathers' love of clematis hybridising, Rowland produced three more cultivars which are still well-known today. In 1960, the nursery was moved to a new site and the old land sold for building. Rowland Jackman died in 1976.
Adapted extracts from The Jackmans of Woking, Surrey by Everett Leeds in The Clematis 1997 and 1998, with the permission of its editor and the author.