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Hybridizer John Salter (1798 - 10 May 1874)

Greater London, England

John Salter was an English gardener, nurseryman and plant breeder, specializing in irises, chrysanthemums and dahlias. Born at Hammersmith, Middlesex, England, Salter moved his family to France in 1838, presumably because land was cheaper and weather conditions better for growing chrysanthemums. He opened a nursery there in Versailles where he developed a large number of flowers, and successfully experimented with selecting seed to develop variegated foliage.

He was the author of 'The Chrysanthemum; its history and culture," which was published in London in 1865.

Charles Darwin corresponded with Salter about his selection methods for hybridizing plants prior to publishing his "Variations of Animals and Plants Under Domestication" in 1868. The two men corresponded about the nature and fixity of variations in plants. Some of Salter's observations appear in Darwin's book.

Salter returned to England in 1848 during a time of political upheaval in France. He opened a nursery in William Street at Hammersmith, calling it Versailles Nursery. His son, Alfred, worked with him as a florist and nurseryman. In 1865 the Metropolitan District Railway Co. notified Salter of their intent to take a portion of his property by eminent domain in order to expand their railway line which ran behind his land. In April 1870 he held an enormous liquidation sale of much of his valuable nursery stock previously sited on the portion of his property about to be taken. Later that year, he was successful in having forced the Railway to buy the remainder of his property from him, having proved in court that he was unable to maintain a liveable residence or continue his business on what had been left to him.

The Salter family appears at Fulham/Hammersmith on the 1851 and 1861 England censuses, by 1871 he had closed his operation and retired to 11 Pembroke Road in Kensington with his wife and son.

He died at his Kensington residence, leaving his wife and son as executors of his estate. His obituary appeared on page one of London's 'Daily News' of 12 May 1874, stating he was "formerly of Versailles."

The May 28, 1868 issue of the Journal of Horticulture contains an item from Versailles Nursery advertising Iris and Peonies for sale.

[Disambiguation: There were several John Salters residing in greater London about this time; this John Salter is the only one who was involved in the nursery trade.]

List of registrations/introductions:

Intermediate Bearded: 'Astarte', 'Fairy Queen', 'Gypsy Queen', 'Mexicana'.

Tall Bearded: 'Abu Hassan', 'Brabant', 'Bridesmaid', 'Delecta', 'Dorinde', 'Fabian', 'Faust', 'Justinian', 'Lady Franklin', 'Mexicana', 'Ossian', 'Penelope', 'Prince of Orange', 'Prince of Wales', 'Queen of May', 'Sceptre', 'Venus'.

-- Main.RPries - 2012-05-18

From Les Iris Cultiv├ęs (1923) p. 62-63: Alboni, Alexandrina, Captivator, Diadem, Duc de Brabant, Duchess of Sutherland, Elfrida, Milton, Mr. Broom, Queen Victoria, Sultan,
Topic revision: r21 - 29 Mar 2023, PascalJordan
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