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John Ystumllyn: A Gardening Pioneer Honored with a Unique Rose

John Ystumllyn: A Gardening Pioneer Honored with a Unique Rose

John Ystumllyn, also known as Jac Du or Jack Black, was an 18th-century Welsh gardener, notable for being the first well-documented black person in North Wales. Born around 1738 and passing away in 1786, John's life was shaped by his unfortunate beginning as a victim of the Atlantic slave trade, with origins believed to be in West Africa or the West Indies. Despite these traumatic beginnings, John rose to prominence, becoming a skilled and respected gardener in the region, proficient in both Welsh and English.

His personal life also marked a significant chapter in history. John's marriage to Margaret Gruffydd, a local white woman, stood as one of the earliest recorded mixed-race marriages in Wales. Together, they had seven children, and their story of love and resilience resonated throughout North Wales, becoming a part of local folklore.

John's legacy continues to be celebrated well beyond his lifetime. The John Ystumllyn Rose, a recent creation by Harkness Roses, symbolizes the lasting impact of his life and work. Harkness Roses, established in 1879, long after John's era, is a renowned British rose breeding company with a rich heritage in horticulture. This esteemed company chose to honor John with a golden yellow Hybrid Tea rose, named after him for its warmth and friendship symbolism. It is believed to be the first rose in the UK named after an ethnic minority individual.

Zehra Zaidi - We Too Built Britain

The initiative to commemorate John Ystumllyn through this rose came from Zehra Zaidi of We Too Built Britain, an organization dedicated to highlighting the achievements of underrepresented groups.

John Ystumllyn Rose

David White, representing Harkness Roses, spoke of the pride and significance of introducing this rose, noting its role in promoting inclusivity within the gardening world.

The John Ystumllyn Rose stands as more than just a floral tribute; it's a beacon of gardening's unifying power, celebrating contributions from all backgrounds. This rose intertwines John's remarkable story with the evolving narrative of diversity and inclusivity in the world of gardening, ensuring his legacy continues to inspire for generations to come.


Wikipedia - John Ystumllyn

The Guardian - New Rose Named After One of Britains First Known Black Gardeners

Face2Face Africa - The Boy Kidnapped from West Africa and Gifted to an Aristocrat in North Wales in 1746