Welcome to a journey through 175 years of horticulture

Welcome to this special edition of Horticulture Week which celebrates the 175th anniversary of the founding of our forerunner, The Gardeners' Chronicle, with a look back at the history of professional horticulture in the UK.


Horticulture Week editor Kate Lowe with Peter Seabrook - image: HW

175 years and counting

Earlier this month, figures from across the UK horticulture industry joined Horticulture Week to mark 175 years since the launch of its forerunner The Gardeners' Chronicle.

Highlights from the last 175 years

Wild flower meadows: backdrop for the 2012 Olympics

Thriving on changes and challenges

Fifty years on from his first article in these pages, Geoff Dixon surveys the evolution of British horticulture since World War Two

The gardener's friend

The first edition of Horticulture Week forerunner The Gardeners' Chronicle was published on 2 January 1841. Here we reproduce the leading article from that edition, setting out the "principal subjects" the journal was intended to embrace.

The hunt for Meconopsis

In 1904, James Veitch & Sons sent EH Wilson to China to hunt for seeds of the lampshade poppy, Meconopsis integrifolia. Here is The Gardeners' Chronicle report.

The shape of things to come

In a 1931 lecture to the Institute of Landscape Architects, founder member Edward White warned fellow members they must cut their cloth to fit tougher times.

Paxton's Palace

In July 1851, as the Great Exhibition drew to a close, Joseph Paxton called for his Crystal Palace to become a permanent garden under glass to improve Londoners' health. As part of Horticulture Week's 175th birthday celebrations, we republish Paxton's call from our forerunner, The Gardeners' Chronicle.

Magnificent machines

Continuing our 175th anniversary celebrations, here is our pick of adverts from early editions of The Gardeners' Chronicle -- including a Joseph Paxton-patented glasshouse.

Darwin: offered readers ‘a few more particulars about the humble-bees’

Darwin and the humble-bees

On 21 August 1841, Charles Darwin wrote to Horticulture Week forerunner The Gardeners' Chronicle about "the humble-bees which bore holes in flowers" following a reader's complaint about damage to his bean crop. Continuing celebrations of our 175th anniversary, here we republish Darwin's letter

Lilium parryh: this species produces yellow flowers

Consider the Lilies

Illustrations of known species accompanied a report in The Gardeners' Chronicle in 1901 on a Lily conference in Chiswick.

Food supplies: people in Kingston queuing to buy potatoes during World War One - image: © Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo

Gardeners and the Great War

One month after the outbreak of war in 1914 The Gardeners' Chronicle hailed steps being taken to build food security at home and urged no let up in 'wise action now'

Garden memorials

As World War Two drew to a close, The Gardeners' Chronicle made a plea for peace memorials from educational facilities set among trees and flowers to rest gardens or rose gardens to remember those never to return.

Eight composts: overall the best results were obtained when chalk and superphosphate were added together

The John Innes revolution

In 1937, WJC Lawrence and J Newell described the results of their experiments to determine the best composts in The Gardeners' Chronicle.

New style: artist’s impression of D Stewart & Sons’ garden centre, Christchurch, 1961

Garden centres are born

In 1961, Gardeners' Chronicle hailed the advent of garden centres in Britain which was set to encourage many more to garden.

Gardeners at Wentworth Castle Garden in 1897 - image: Reproduced by kind permission of Wentworth Castle (

A helping hand for gardeners since 1839

Philanthropy in the 19th century enabled pre-welfare state pensions for gardeners, says Matthew Biggs.

Horticulture families

In April 1964, Gardeners' Chronicle marked the centenary of Hillier Nurseries, one of the many family businesses that have played a vital role in shaping the industry.

Nurseryman, John Ravenscroft - image: HW

Tendering troubles

Writing in Horticulture Week in 1991, nurseryman John Ravenscroft lamented the impact of compulsory competitive tendering on amenity horticulture.

The groundsman's progress

In 1961, Eton College head groundsman WH Bowles looked back at the revolution in sports ground maintenance, from the 'horse and buggy age' to the 'jet age'.