About Jackson & Perkins
Jackson & Perkins was founded in 1872, when Charles Perkins, with the financial backing of his father-in-law, A.E. Jackson, started up a modest enterprise wholesaling strawberries and grape plants from a farm in Newark, N.Y. He also sold directly to local customers who stopped by the farm.
In those early days, when you bought a garden plant from Jackson & Perkins, chances were you would make your purchase directly from Charlie Perkins himself. He would always say, "If it doesn't grow for you, let me know." When they did, he would provide either a replacement or a refund. To this day, every Jackson & Perkins plant is guaranteed to grow.
A Rose Dynasty Begins
Jackson & Perkins began selling roses before the turn of the century, but it was some time before they became the company's main product. That happened almost by chance, the result of an employee's interest in rose breeding.
Jackson & Perkins began selling roses before the turn of the century, but it was some time before they became the company's main product.
In 1896 the company hired E. Alvin Miller, who, in addition to his regular duties, tried his hand at hybridizing roses. In 1901, Jackson & Perkins marketed one of Miller's varieties, a climber called Dorothy Perkins, which became one of the most widely planted roses in the world.
The surprising success of the Dorothy Perkins rose prompted Jackson & Perkins to focus on roses as its main product. As more energy went into creating and marketing new varieties, the company began to employ full-time hybridizers whose creativity and vision enabled Jackson & Perkins to grow into the world's foremost producer and marketer of roses. One in particular, Eugene Boerner, was notable for his contributions to the Floribunda class of roses. In fact, it was C.H. Perkins, a cousin of Charles, who coined the term. Another hybridizer, William Warriner, developed 110 rose varieties that resulted in the sale of 40 million plants and 20 All-America Rose Selections. Two of his roses, Medallion and Red Masterpiece, were selected for special-issue postage stamps by the United States Postal Service in 1978.
Mail-Order Business Develops
The company's mail order business resulted from a garden exhibit Jackson & Perkins set up at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. Entitled "A Parade of Modern Roses," the display was a huge success, and visitors from all over the nation purchased roses but didn't want to carry them home. They asked the company to mail the roses instead, and told their friends back home of the convenience offered in receiving roses by mail. Orders began to pour in from all over the nation and Jackson & Perkins began shipping by mail. A new channel of plant commerce was born.
What had been a nursery serving New York area gardeners became a mail-order concern serving gardeners across the nation. Over the next several years, this part of the business grew so much that the company published its first catalog. Little Newark, N.Y. soon began to call itself the Rose Capital of America, and hundreds and thousands came each spring and summer to see the famous Jackson & Perkins roses.
Jackson & Perkins Today
By the mid-1960s, the company had outgrown its Newark facility, and various operations were relocated. After a brief period of time in Pleasanton, Calif., the growing operation found a home in California's San Joaquin Valley, north of Bakersfield. Relocation followed the 1966 acquisition of the company by Harry and David®, the nation's leading fruit gift company. Roses instantly took to the deep Hesperia loam soil, abundant water supply and the 260-day growing season of Wasco. Under these ideal conditions, Jackson & Perkins cultivates more than 5,000 acres of rose fields. Each year horticulturists bud, grow and harvest more than 10 million plants.
Today, Jackson & Perkins is a full-service nursery offering all kinds of flowers, trees, shrubs, ground coverings, bulbs, decorative garden gifts, tools, garden accessories, plant care products and, of course roses. Over 2 million roses and other plants are shipped to customers every year.