The Story of Parigo – Part 1

Whether it be a handsome sum of money, the dining room table or a bad temper, we all inherit something from our parents.

In the case of the founder of Parigo, John Goemans, it was a horticultural heritage that began with his grandfather Petrus. Petrus established “P. Goemans and Sons” bulbgrowers and exporters in Holland in 1860.

It seems that once those plants get in your blood you can’t get them out.

Don’t we know it!

So Petrus’ horticultural legacy continued down the line with his son Adriaan happily bulb growing in Holland.

But how did Parigo begin and get to England, you may ask?

It all began with Adriaan’s son, John, just before World War 2.

Before and During WW2

Parigo began in December 1938, when John Goemans, started growing flowers on a small nursery near Spalding. John originally started growing Spring flowers together with another Dutchman, Mr. van Paridon. This is where the name Parigo came from - a combination of the founder’s names.

World War 2 intervened in the company growth and Mr. van Paridon spent the war years in Holland. After years away from the nursery he decided to withdraw from the company after the war ended, leaving John to run it with his sons Bob and Frank.

The war years were a challenge in many ways. In 1945 John reported that the last four years culture of bulbs had been limited to 25 percent of what he had in culture in 1938.

He had to start growing farm crops like potatoes, sugar beets and wheat but was focusing on freesia seed to trade in after the war. He also started keeping bees as he recognised how vital they are for gaining seeds. And it tasted good too.

Post WW2

After the war, the family began growing freesias, alstroemeria and gladioli along with other bulbous plants.

But John Goemans was not just a grower of plants, he was also a successful plant breeder and by 1951 Parigo’s breeding programme really got going and achieved great success with their freesias.

Alstroemeria were still a work in progress. Although alstroemeria had long been established as a garden plant, John wanted to breed a new hybrid. He wanted long lasting cut flowers with larger blooms in a wide range of colours.

The hybrids were initially produced from crosses between three of the original alstroemeria species. After years of endeavour, in 1959 John produced his first seedling ‘Ballerina’ and two years later, ‘Parigo’s Charm’ and ‘Parigo’s Pride’ came along.

Encouraged by the success of these hybrids, John went on to produce 100 seedlings of varying colours and characteristics. Through continuous selection work on Parigo’s nurseries, a nucleus of about 20 varieties has been vegetatively propagated to produce stocks for commercial cut flower production.

These Super hybrids could be made to produce cut flowers from early March through to late October rather than only July, as with Alstroemeria aurantiaca varieties. They also had straight, single stems with narrow, attractive leaves and could grow to over 180cm in height. The flower head could have as many as 10 branches with each having a spray of 4 or 5 flower buds.

What an achievement!

And what happened next?

Stay tuned for part 2…