Thomas, Graham Stuart 1909-2003
THOMAS, Graham Stuart 1909-2003
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born April 3, 1909, in Cambridge, England; died April 17, 2003, in Woking, England. Horticulturist, artist, and author. Thomas, who was also a botanical artist, was one of the most influential gardeners of the twentieth century and wrote extensively on the subject. His lifetime love of plants began during his childhood when a godfather gave him a fuchsia plant. His only formal training in the subject was obtained through botany lectures at Cambridge University which he was able to attend because he was volunteering at the university's botanical gardens. In 1931 he became the foreman at T. Hilling & Co. in Chobham. Here he met garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, who became a mentor. Advancing to the position of manager, he remained at T. Hilling until 1956, when he became director of Sunningdale Nurseries. During his time at T. Hilling and Sunningdale, Thomas started his mission to save varieties of old garden roses from extinction. He considered these plants, many of which had disappeared from cultivation after the Edwardian Era, to be part of England's cultural heritage. Thomas is credited with rediscovering and cultivating some seventy types of plants, including varieties of hostas, geraniums, anemones, and twenty-seven rose cultivars. In addition to this work, Thomas was a longtime advisor to the National Trust, and as such supervised the restoration of 110 public gardens in Great Britain. After retiring from Sunningdale in 1973, he continued to work as a consultant and to write. Many of his books, which he illustrated with his own artwork, are considered essential gardener reference sources and include The Old Shrub Roses (1955; fifth edition, 1979), Perennial Garden Plants (1976; third edition, 1990), The Complete Flower Paintings (1987), The Graham Stuart Thomas Rose Book (1994), Cuttings from My Garden Notebook (1997), Treasured Perennials (1999), Thoughts from a Garden Seat (2000), and The Garden through the Year (2002). At the time of his death he had just finished his memoirs, which were published posthumously. For his contributions to horticulture Thomas was named to the Order of the British Empire in 1975, in addition to receiving many other honors.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Writers Directory, 18th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2003, p. B12.
New York Times, April 28, 2003, p. B7.
Times (London, England), April 28, 2003, p. 28.