160 years of history of gardeners and flower breeders from the Černý family in Jaroměř - story of the company.

The Founders

The story of the company began all the way back in 1859, five generations ago, when it was founded by the ancestor of the current owners, the passionate gardener and seed trader Ferdinand Hlaváček (1822–1897) together with his wife Terezie (1830–1896). They began gardening on the site of the current gardens, although these looked completely different back then and only started to grow slowly. The valley, bordered on the one side by the slopes of Klouzkova Hill and on the other side by a railway embankment, was more of a waterlogged meadow than a place to grow flowers. It also had more than 25 owners. Ferdinand bought a small house on the edge of the valley, a former match factory, a bit of land to go with this and set to work. He gradually started to buy up land, to reclaim the marshland and after thirty-six years of tiring work, was able to boast a garden roughly 1.5 strikes in size (approx. 4,000 m2).

His greatest passion was however vegetable and flower seed trading. He sold seeds for foreign and also tried and tested regional varieties. A metal snuff tin is still kept by the family to this very day – brought by a Dutch seed trader who wanted to get to know one of his good customers. At that time, seeds were mainly sold at market, so he travelled with his goods all over the region, but also to the famous markets in Brno and Prague. He was a savvy trader and used to say to his daughter: “Remember, Mařenko, that a dishonest penny will surely lead to no wealth.”

Even though he was born into very poor circumstances and gained practically no education, he died as a respected gardener and citizen of Jaroměř.

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Ferdinand Hlaváček (1822–1897)
Terezie Hlaváčková (1830–1896)
František Černý (1865–1925)
and Marie Černá (1866–1932), née Hlaváčková

Artistic Gardening

František Černý (1865–1925) married into the Hlaváček garden centre in 1896. He learned gardening at the chateau in Smiřice nad Labem and worked in Moravia after that. In 1888, he was appointed gardener at the Hohe Warte Park owned by the Rothschild family in Vienna, even more famous than the gardens at Schönbrunn. It is no exaggeration to say that this was the university of the gardening arts. However, František wanted to gain his independence. After having successfully managed land-scaping for the “Music and Theatre Exhibition” in Vienna in 1892, he was recommended to Prince Radziwill as head gardener in the Russian part of Poland, but in fact started work with his relatives, the Rembelinský family in Krośniewice. He was given a luxurious flat, horses, a carriage, a sleigh and a good wage.

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Courtyard in František Černý’s garden (1865–1925)
Original permanently flowering
Niphetos climbing rose bush
planted by František Černý
František Černý (1865–1925)
with his apprentices

While visiting Jaroměř, he met Marie Hlaváčková. She charmed him and they got married. From chateau parks, he found his way to vegetable growing and seed production. From orangeries with foreign flowers, to commercial gardening. He honoured traditional practices, never taking a liking for seed production. He preferred to devote his time to growing flowers and excelled in artistic flower arrangement. He also had other cultural interests. He enjoyed reading, wrote short stories, acted and painted. A white Niphetos climbing rose bush, which flowers all year round, still grows in our greenhouse to this very day. František planted this bush in order to be able to make up bouquets – even in winter.

Marie Černá (1866–1932), née Hlaváčková, married František Černý as her second husband. She worked hard in the garden, but above all devoted her efforts to the commercial side of the operation of the garden centre – she travelled to market. This was held in Jaroměř every Friday and was the main place for the sale of cultivars, but also seeds.

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František Černý (1865–1925)
with his young son František (1896–1968)
Petunia h. fimbriata Maminka
František Černý (1896–1968)
with petunias

Seed Producers – Breeders

Another ancestor of the family, František Černý (1896–1968), returned to seed production. His father did not want him to follow him into gardening. He saw how much hard work it was and imagined his son’s future differently. František was however born a gardener and in the end managed to fight for his beloved career.

When his father was already very ill, František married Marie Mojžíšová (1903–1987) from an old gardening family from Náchod. After his father’s death, he specialised the business with a focus on seed production with a clear goal: to shake the monopoly of German companies. They started to engage in breeding of petunias and later also begonias, lily-of-the-valley, salvia, cyclamens and cineraria.

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František (1896–1968)
and Marie Černá (1903–1987),
née Mojžíšová
František Černý’s catalogue (1896–1968)
František Černý’s garden centre in the 1940s

In fact, this happened quite by chance. František saw some planters in front of a seed company in Hradec Králové with large-flowered overhanging petunia. They literally enchanted him and so he set out for the promised land of petunias, Germany. He planted his first petunia in 1927 and starting the next year, tried different possibilities for pollination and selection of the most suitable plants with his wife Marie. Their colourful colony grew. In 1934, the Černý family launched their first own variety “Karkulka”, which we offer in our range in a modified form to this very day. Then came other original varieties. The petunias were joined by permanently flowering begonias and tuberous begonias.

Marie Černá devoted her whole life to breeding tuberous begonias and the result of this is beautiful full-flowered resistant varieties.

The Černý Seed Company gradually made its mark and production was already unable to meet demand after the war. In 1950 however, František had to lease his business to the state and it was completely expropriated ten years later. Despite this, he did devote the rest of his life to flowers. He too had a lot of cultural interests. He enjoyed reading, acted in the theatre and kept in contact with people from the artistic world. He was active in gardening social life, regularly writing for the professional press. He was a characteristic and respected personality in the field of gardening.

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Production crops of petunia intended for production of seeds
František (1896–1968)
and Marie (1903–1987) Černý
classifying begonias, 1967
Petunia h. fimbriata
Pozdrav z Jaroměře

Hybrid Breeding

After World War Two, flower breeding in Jaroměř reached a completely new level. The person responsible for this was František Černý’s son Jan (1928–1980).

Jan first learned the gardening trade with his father. He met his future wife Alenka Prokopová (1928–2000) at the gardening school in the Moravian town of Lednice, where everybody who was truly interested in this field caught up with their education after the war. Alenka also came from a gardening family. Jan then continued his studies at the Agricultural University in Brno. As a student, he became acquainted with a pioneer of the new heterosis method, Professor F. Frimmel. This truly fateful meeting led him to start breeding hybrid varieties.

In 1959, Jan Černý launched the first hybrid variety of permanently flowering begonias onto the market, the Turov F1. In 1960, he launched the first hybrid petunia variety, the Lavina Bílá F1. He gradually bred a comprehensive range of hybrid varieties of these flowers. His wife Alenka also participated in breeding many of these.

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Jan Černý (1928–1980)
next to hotbeds with cyclamen
Jan Černý (1928–1980)
and Alenka Černá (1928–2000),
née Prokopová
Alenka Černá (1928–2000)
selecting petunias
for production of seeds

His varieties were judged to be the best in international comparative trials in Hannover. These varieties won several awards at garden shows. One of his dreams come true was the yellow petunia, a shade which does not naturally occur in petunias.

Jan Černý became an important and respected breeder on an international scale. He also took an interest in the public greenery in Jaroměř and performed an inventory of this. He died suddenly in 1980. The valuable genetic material was only preserved in its scope and quality thanks to his wife Alenka. It was not easy to perform the duties which were originally performed by three people. The scope of breeding work was huge.

The nationalised enterprise was incorporated for several years into the Sempra state enterprise. Despite various problems, the Černý family was able to continue the breeding work they had started. The fruits of these efforts are modern varieties of petunia and begonia which flower fans in the Czech Republic and abroad have taken pleasure in for several years now.

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Jan Černý (1928–1980) with his father František Černý (1896–1968), 1967 Jan Černý (1928–1980)
evaluating trial hybrids, 1967
The Novitas Olomucensis award

Rebirth and Present Day

A representative of the next generation, Jan Černý (1957–2016), also devoted his life to flower breeding. The result of this is a range of modern hybrid varieties of begonia and petunia.

Jan studied plant genetics at the Faculty of Science at Charles University in Prague. While still studying at university, he married Vlasta, née Broučková in 1978. Their first son, Jan, was born in 1978, a daughter, Veronica, in 1980 and a second son, Jakub, in 1991. After certain disagreements with the management of the then state-owned enterprise Sempra, he had to abandon his work for a short period in 1988. He did not however lose contact with the breeding station in Jaroměř.

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  Jan Černý (1957–2016)
and the first free elections in 1990
Petunia h. fimbriata
Aphrodite F1

Then something happened at the start of 1991 which nobody had dared to hope for anymore. The gardening business was returned to the hands of its original owners, the Černý family, within the framework of restitution and successfully built on its past tradition. After November 1989, Jan Černý also got involved in public life in Jaroměř, where he was politically active for three electoral terms (1990–2002) as city councillor and for two electoral terms (1990–1998) as a member of the town council. Jan enjoyed music – attending concerts by his favourite musicians and bands and took a passionate interest in cinematography. He also had a lifelong interest in art and very much enjoyed travelling.

His two sons Jan Černý (1978) and Jakub Černý (1991) currently work in and manage the company. They already represent the sixth generation to continue the family tradition. Both among other things studied at the Secondary Horticultural School in Mělník and at the Faculty of Horticulture at Mendel University in Brno. The team of experienced workers, some of which have been working in the company for more than
25 years, guarantees the high quality of seeds produced.

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Jan Černý (1957–2016) with his mother Alenka Černá (1928–2000)
Petunia h. Diamond Pearly Shades F1
Jan Černý (1957–2016)
at work breeding

The Černý Seed Company is nowadays a highly specialised breeding and seed production company. It is currently the only company in the Czech Republic to launch new F1 hybrid flowers which it has bred itself onto the market every year. The seeds which are produced are constantly gaining in popularity and are successfully distributed to customers all around the world. Plants which come from Jaroměř are thus nowadays grown not only in Europe, but also in Asia, America or for example on the Arabian Peninsula.

Since 1934, the Černý family has bred more than 130 original varieties of petunia, begonia, cyclamen, lily-of-the-valley and other types of flowers. Varieties bred in Jaroměř have won several medals at international exhibitions and have been awarded the “Novitas Olomucensis” prize three times. However, the most important thing is the fact that they have retained their popularity among gardeners and flower fans the whole time.

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Jan Černý (1957–2016) with his sons – Jan (1978) from the left
and Jakub (1991) from the right
František Černý (2015) next to the Niphetos climbing rose bush,
planted by his great-great-great-grandfather František Černý (1865–1925)
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