You steal an 8-year-old child from the banks of a river and take him to the U.K away from his parent's arms, only to come back two centuries laters to award him a Yellow Rose. How noble of the British.
One of Britain’s first recorded Black gardeners, John Ystumllyn, is being celebrated for his life’s effort. In honor of Ystumllyn’s life, a yellow rose has been named after him, with yellow symbolizing friendship. It is said to be the first rose in the United Kingdom to be named after a person of color.
Ystumllyn was kidnapped in Western Africa in the 18th century when he was about 8 years old while “on the banks of a stream amid woodland attempting to catch a moorhen,” according to historians.
In our third talk pic, Audrey West shares context for #JohnYstumllyn’s portrait.
September 18, 2021 — ISWE (@YstadauCymru)
Ystumllyn, whose real name is unknown, was eventually returned to North Wales and lived on a country estate in Gwynedd. Despite the fact that he eventually became a servant in the Wynn family’s Ystumllyn household, documents show that he was not enslaved and lived as a free man, according to Dr. Marian Gwyn, Race Council Cymru’s head of heritage. He would go on to study horticulture and become a well-known gardener as a result of his inherent skill.
In the aftermath of the recent Black Lives Matters rallies, Zehra Zaidi, the founder of We Too Built Britain, which focuses on increasing awareness of the achievements of under-represented communities, approached Harkness Roses, the winner of the Chelsea flower show, with the idea of developing a rose.
Roses named after Queen Elizabeth of England and the late Duke of Edinburgh had previously been cultivated at the Hertfordshire nursery. According to BBC News, the yellow rose was eventually picked, which many activists say symbolizes friendship and is the first in the United Kingdom to be named after a member of a minority group.
“We’ve done it out of friendship, which is why the color is yellow, it represents for love, it stands for community,” Zaidi remarked to the British publication, explaining that she wanted something that would represent Ystumllyn and show inclusivity and friendship. Those are the ideals that John embodied, as everybody who knows his biography knows.”
Beyond only conveying Ystumllyn’s narrative, the activist wanted to use the newly formed flower to bring people closer together. “We wanted to bring people together.” You may have a three-hour journey to get a statue, but you could plant a rose in your garden or give a rose as a gift to someone,” she continued.
Ystumllyn, who was also known as ac Du (Welsh for “Black Jack”), was nearly never unemployed. Ystumllyn and his accomplishments, according to Zaidi, are significant because “his story allows us to see integration, to see a more inclusive history of gardening.”