Penstemon breeder Edward Wilson dies, aged 61

Penstemon Pensham breeder Edward Wilson has died, aged 61.

Wilson's career in horticulture began in Jersey, where he spent two years at the Experimental Station training to become a fruit farmer. He later studied at Pershore College for two years.

In 1972 he married Stella and they bought land in Pensham, near Pershore.

Their business, Pershore Plant Raisers, grew outdoor salad crops and vegetables before moving into bedding and pot plants.

The emphasis later changed towards supplying bedding plants direct to retailers.

The most important customer for this venture was Carol Nichols, proprietor of Guarlford Nurseries, Malvern, for whom Wilson named Penstemon 'Malvern Springs'.

In 1985, Wilson decided to specialise in Penstemon breeding and successfully bred and marketed more than 50 Pensham varieties, eight Fruits of the Forest varieties and, more recently, six Elgar varieties. P. 'Pensham Just Jayne', named after Jayne Pullin, Wilson's plant propagator, was his favourite plant. P. 'Pensham Arctic Fox' and P. 'Pensham Suzanna' were planted at Highgrove, prompting Prince Charles to send a personal letter to Wilson, which arrived two weeks before his death.

Plants are propagated under licence by R Delamore and distributed to growers in the UK and Eire. In the UK, one of the largest retailers of Penstemon is Hayloft Plants, also based in Pensham.

Wilson's business, Pershore Plant Raisers, continues with Stella Wilson in charge, helped by her daughter Sally Saunders and son James Wilson.

A service of thanksgiving was held on 25 August at Pershore Abbey. Donations to Pershore Cottage Hospital have been requested by the family, to thank the staff.

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