Daniel James Pearce (1924-2013)
It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Jim, who died on Monday, 28th, of January of Parkinson’s disease, aged 88 years.
Jim was born in Birmingham in 1924 and later due to parental insistence, a trade being the norm for young school-leavers in those days, he served an apprenticeship as an engineering pattern maker. This stood him in good stead as witness to the superb glasshouses he constructed in later years at his home in Copford.
Following the end of the Second World War, he chose to reject industry and joined the staff of the College of the Ascension, Selly Oak, Birmingham as a gardener. He eventually was promoted to Head Gardener and also began his writing career by contributing a weekly column to the Birmingham Sunday Mercury and as a regular correspondent for the Garden News.
At the end of the 1950’s he joined the Daffodil Society and in 1959 became its Secretary, which also meant being its Show Secretary and Editor of Publications as well, a position he held for the next 25 years. In addition he was auctioneer of end of show fund-raising sales a source of income for the Society’s coffers.
With sale of land at the college for building extensions, Jim could not countenance the marginalisation of the garden he had striven to develop and maintain, and so he sought pastures new and became Head Gardener at Braxted Park in Essex.
Unfortunately after overhauling and improving the estate a change of management meant he was on the move again this time to Notcutts Nursery as Plantsnman and took the opportunity to found his own daffodil nursery,Copford Bulbs, which proved to be very successful.
His gardening column also transferred to Colchester’s local paper, the Essex County Standard, and at that time he was elected President of the Daffodil Society, a post he held for ten years. He attended the Society AGM for fifty consecutive years, a record unlikely to be emulated.
On retiring from Notcutts he set up his own landscaping consultancy which kept him extremely busy in both Essex and Suffolk, and even planned and planted a new arboretum at Little Bentley Hall, which is a fine memorial much admired.
Surprisingly, he also found time to serve on the Royal Horticultural Society’s Daffodil and Tulip Committee for over 25 years as well as editing the annual Daffodil and Tulip Yearbook for some ten of them.
Jim was for more than 30 years a lecturer in Further Education in both Birmingham and Essex, was a founder member of the Professional Gardeners Guild, and still found time to adjudicate as a Fellow of the National Vegetable Society nationwide.
In 2005 he wrote a book, which he felt filled a niche, entitled ‘Gilded Walls’ A guide to Climber, Wall Shrubs and Fruit which drew on his 60 years of vast horticultural experience. Coupled with his easy readable style and featuring numerous plant portraits it presented a superb guide for both beginner and seasoned gardener alike.
His affable nature and wise guidance will be sorely missed by all who new him, none more so than his wife of 67 years, Marion and his daughter Gillian to whom we offer our sincere condolences.
Reg Nicholl. President, The Daffodil Society