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Joan Shirley

Farewell To The Fuchsia Lady

Joan Shirley
20 March 1939 - 10 February 2017

 

Joan, Jo, Josey, Wife, Mummy, Mum, Nanny, Great Nanny, Brown Owl, Guide Leader, Mrs Shirley and The Fuchsia Lady.

However we knew Jo, there was one common factor – she was truly a special lady who touched the hearts of all she met.

Kind, loving, amazing mathematician, cook, baker, artist, knitter, dressmaker. She turned her hand to everything and mastered it.

Born in 1939, second child to Lesley William Watson Hartfield and Ella Agnes Wales residing at Albery, Danemore Lane, South Godstone. Jo was one of three, with her older brother John and her younger sister Mary-Lou. John, well known as her ‘partner in crime’ they got up to many pranks!
Jo’s favourite story was the time she was grounded and John aided her by putting a ladder up against her bedroom window so she could escape and go and play with John. Only to forget when she came home and walked in the door that she had actually escaped without her parents knowing and they were not best pleased. She was then grounded again however she had, had a lovely time. Jo was a bit of a Tom Boy with John and loved catching Sticklebacks in the stream in the front field.

Two people met by chance in July 1957, and it really was love at first sight. Jo was 18 and Jerry 22, and those lovely cheeky smiles, and such beautiful blue eyes, lead to a £10.00 engagement ring spotted in Brighton and followed by 60 years of love and devotion.

Jo and Jerry married June 10th 1961 and lived in a lovely bungalow in Lightwater, Surrey, where they built a very large greenhouse to grow plants, their business became known as Perfect Plants.

Jo loved Jerry very much and that showed in so many ways. They worked hard together as a team and supported each other in happy times, good times, bad times and sad times.

Through the early years of Jo’s courting and marriage with Jerry. Jo and Jerry loved to dance especially ballroom and even went to classes to improve.

In October 1962, they were blessed with their first daughter, Josette, followed by Sarah, Nancy and Stephen.

They moved to Challock on the 17th July 1963 to a semi derelict nursery and a Nissen Hut for a home. Over the following years they built up a thriving business, which without Jo’s drive, boundless and unlimited energy would never of grown like it did. And, of course, they built their family home Portulaceae.

Jo’s family grew with 11 Grandchildren, Sophie, Sammy-Jo, Edward, Thomas, Suzie, Charlie, George, Ella-Jane, Jake, Molly and Milly, and in more recent years her Great Grandchildren Hugo and Indiana.

She always taught her children, "you can always try and do your best, there’s no such word and can’t". Her guidance and encouragement for her entire family growing up was second to none and has been a big influence to the people we all are today.

Everyone knew Jo’s love and talent in the kitchen, especially her baking. She baked cakes on a Sunday for tea for the rest of the week - and even this past Christmas baked Christmas Cakes, Mince Pies and Sausage Rolls with Milly and Molly.

Jo was famous throughout the family for many dishes however her lemon meringue pie was a favourite.

From produce lovingly grown in the garden by Jerry she conjured up all sorts of dishes – (Pickled Red Cabbage another family favourite) – and with the excess produce made jams, marmalades, chutney’s, soups and purees – and of course froze the excess! She was never a fan of the supermarkets, preferring to shop locally and cook seasonally. She put her heart and soul in to everything she did. This is how Stephen developed his passion for cooking which his youngest daughter now enjoys too.

Not only was Jo great in the kitchen she made her own clothes, her children’s and her Grandchildren’s. What a great Seamstress! Hence Sarah’s love and talent for making clothes too.

Whenever the Grandchildren visited, Jo would prepare an exciting craft activity to teach them new skills, which included knitting. All of the Grandchildren have very fond memories of this.

For her first Great Grandchild, she knitted a blanket, which took months and months to knit, (so intricate, like lace) which will be treasured forever as a family heirloom.

Jo took great pride in her appearance, never needed make-up, so never wore make-up! She was naturally beautiful. Not a wrinkle on her face and as you all know only wore skirts and dresses, “trousers are for men only”!

Jo was slightly shy, but very kind and was a fantastic calm, levelheaded lady. She always made time for people and her smile and laughter could lighten up the dullest day.

Jo loved a glamorous holiday but with her fear of flying led her to cruising with the influence of her parents. This fear of flying and love of cruising has rubbed off on Stephen.

Jo was an extremely hard worker in every aspect of her life. Sarah remembers many times sitting outside her office, hearing the constant clicking of her on her adding machine. Working all hours!

But for many it will be her Fuchsias. Coming late to the growing side of the business Jo took over the production and growing of Fuchsias – starting as and interest, moving to a passion and finally an obsession. Jo built up a collection of over 600 varieties of Fuchsia’s and, as much as she hated the over used word ‘Expert’ could arguably have been called one – being able to identify most of the varieties by flower and many, many by leaf alone. And of course the pinnacle of her Fuchsia growing career was growing and supplying Fuchsias for the Queen – that were planted in the gardens of Windsor Castle. Jo’s memory will live on at the nursery in the Fuchsia House and only last week the young 2017 plants were being potted up.

All her Grandchildren have thoroughly enjoyed working around the Nursery with her, whether it be pricking out seedling, stapling literature or tending to Nannies precious Fuchsias. She had the patience of a Saint; always had to re do their work but never complaining as she enjoyed it all so much, involving her Grandchildren in everything she did.

Jo was always there to talk to, she never interfered with any discussions but if you ever ask her opinion or advise it was always fair and right.

Jo was a loyal friend and still in contact with her school friend Gwen and her pen friend Jacquie. She really knew how important friendship was. What a great attribute to have!

Unable to attend due to ill health, Jacquie is celebrating Jo’s life with us at this time – with a special small service at Chartres Cathedral. Similarly, Ann, Jo’s Sister In Law, is celebrating with us from a distance – as she prays at the Ladies’ Chapel of her Church.

Finally Jo welcomed everyone’s partners in to the family with complete love and made a special effort to get to know each and everyone of them.

Jo, Josey, Mummy, Mum, Nanny was an incredible admirable women and her love and smile will live with us all forever.

She will be missed but never forgotten.