Thursday 18 March 2010

Elizabeth Parker-Jervis 1931-2010

With her impressive stature and (it has to be said) somewhat bossy ways Elizabeth Parker-Jervis was a notable, even redoubtable figure in Oxfordshire horticultural circles for many years. With her husband John she had established the specialist P-J Nursery at Longworth in the 1970s: it was an important source of choice plants at a time when these were less freely available than they are today, and many of us started our collections of snowdrops and colchicums with P-J stock. I well remember a visit to the nursery in 1987 with Elizabeth dispensing good advice as she did up Colchicum corms in net bags.

Much of the stock sold through the P-J Nursery had been inherited by Elizabeth from her father Dick Trotter, a banker and sometime Treasurer of the RHS, who had gardened at Leith Vale, Surrey, and later at Brin in Inverness-shire. Through the RHS, Dick Trotter became a great friend of E.A. Bowles, who regularly visited Leith Vale, where he was known as Uncle G. As Elizabeth was fond of remarking, she 'was brought up on Bowles's knee' and he imparted his particular way of looking at plants in detail and with humour to her. His influence remained with her all her life: last Saturday she brightened at the sight of some crocuses I had brought her and spoke fondly of her beloved Uncle G. She was a Vice-President of the E.A. Bowles of Myddelton House Society, and of the Oxford & District Group of the Alpine Garden Society.

After the death of her husband Elizabeth gave up the nursery and moved into a smaller, but still spacious home nearby. Over the years she became less mobile (but until quite recently seldom let this interfere with her getting to events) and somewhat eccentric, bringing a nest of baby hedgehogs she was rearing to a garden party, for example. She remained determined to pass on good plants, bringing bales of seed heads to meetings up to last autumn, and her generosity and general kindness were legendary. Late last year she decided to place herself in a nursing home, unfortunately deteriorating in condition rapidly thereafter: she died yesterday.

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