The 1860s

The Horticultural Society of London is renamed the Royal Horticultural Society after its president Prince Albert arranges a new charter. A new garden is secured in Kensington that remains the society’s headquarters until 1888.

The 1861 census reveals that while the number of people employed in agriculture overall has declined in the decade to 1861 from 2,011,447 to 1,924,110, horticulture is showing growth. The number of gardeners reaches 78,533 in 1861, and nurserymen and women 2,917. A further 55 people are recorded as "watercress growers".

Thomas Hayton Mawson, regarded as the leading landscape architect of the Edwardian era, is born in Scorton, just south of Lancaster.

Nurseries begin to include illustrations and detailed plant descriptions in their catalogues. By the end of the 19th century, the larger seed houses (Sutton, Carter, Webb, Daniels) are producing substantial annual catalogues with colour illustrations.

Botanist John Lindley begins to trial coco peat growing medium.

The new Royal Horticultural Society garden at Kensington plays host to the first Great Spring Show, which later becomes the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Construction work gets underway on the Temperate Houses at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Edwin Hillier, a young man from a family of agricultural labourers, takes the decision to purchase a two-acre nursery with a companion florist’s shop in Winchester, thus establishing what is today a horticultural brand with a worldwide reputation — Hilliers Nurseries.

Sir Joseph Paxton, celebrated landscape gardener, creator of the Crystal Palace, member of Parliament and founder of The Gardeners’ Chronicle, dies at the age of 62.

After packeting seeds from a leek that yielded 16oz – and seeing those seeds sold out in two days, James Dobbies gives up his job as a chief constable and devotes himself to J Dobbie "Choice Seeds & Flowers" of Renfrew — the forerunner of today’s chain of Dobbies garden centres.

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