Further tributes for the late Peter Seabrook UPDATED

Further tributes have been sent to Horticulture Week after Peter Seabrook died on 14 January aged 86.

Peter Seabrook
Peter Seabrook

Tributes pour in for Peter Seabrook


Kernock Park Plants' Richard Harnett said: "I first met Peter at Efford EHS in 1965 when he worked for Bord na Mona. Over the years we have often talked about plants and sticking up for the horticultural industry.  If it happened to be at Chelsea or Gardeners' World Live he would often be interrupted by passers by saying hello and remembering his days hosting Gardeners' World many years before. His Life Time Achievement award at the 2015 Hort Week Growers Awards was one of many accolades to the tireless effort he devoted to bring the love of gardening to everyone but always remembering who produced these plants and the problems the industry faced. His undying enthusiasm for plants and the people interested in growing will have a lasting memory and the loss of Peter will be greatly missed." Bruce Harnett added: "I was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Seabrook. His passion for gardening was infectious and unrivalled. He understood the industry like no other and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. One can only imagine the notes in that notebook of his, that will now never make it to paper! Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

John Richardson and family of Johnsons of Whixley said: "We were so shocked to hear the sudden news of Peter’s recent death. Our sincere condolences.

"My memories of Peter go back to 1955 when I was in my first year at Writtle and Peter was in his second year. He was one of those few people who appeared to stay in the public (horticultural!) eye throughout his entire life.

"We last saw him when he called for a few hours approximately 6 months ago to discuss our current concept of the horticultural industry.  As usual, he was under time pressure, but we enjoyed a few hours of reminiscing as far back as Writtle, the passing of both our wives, and the subsequent changes in all things horticultural.

"Peter did more for our industry than almost anyone else, his in-depth knowledge of all the facets of the industry, the principal players, the threats to the industry and the activity of our foreign competitors, ensured that his public comments were always appropriate and justified.

"Peter was the bedrock of the horticultural industry, which he so obviously loved. He was a great friend to us all. He will be sorely missed."

Robert Hillier said: "I am very sorry to hear of Peter’s sudden death. I spoke to him on the phone a few weeks ago and he was talking with great enthusiasm about his plans for the future. He really was a great character, totally committed to plants, gardening and commercial horticulture and the people involved. He was extremely knowledgeable and a wonderful champion for our industry. He will be sadly missed. I used to meet Peter and Margaret regularly at Chelsea and we would have a catch-up on what was happening in the world of horticulture. They were great fun and had a very special relationship together."

Stewarts' Martin Stewart said: "What an extraordinary friend to the industry, indeed all of us. I too remember returning home at lunchtime with my father to see him on Pebble Mill at One in the 1970’s. We also have cuttings of Sunday Times articles written by Peter from the early 1970’s talking about the development of Garden Centres. Has there ever been anyone more prolific?

"One of my first memories of the trade was watching him bouncing onto the stage for his 15 minute slot at GCA Conferences in the early 1980’s.

"He was so inspirational, his energy was extraordinary, his legacy incredible. Thank you Peter, so very much."

Broadcaster David Domoney said: "I am so sorry to hear of the passing of my dear friend and colleague Peter Seabrook. His positive impact on this nation of gardeners should never be underestimated. He tirelessly promoted gardening through his writing, broadcasting and many campaigns & projects including his inspiring exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show, many of which he funded personally. His drive to support schools and children's gardening has inspired many new generations of gardeners. His staunch support of the horticultural industry has gain him the respect in thousands of boardrooms across Britain. Peter will be sorely missed but rest assured his legacy of the millions he inspired to enjoy their garden will live on."

Kerley's David Kerley said: I remember Peter from the Unwins Press Days in the 80s when he would always break away from the main group of Press visitors to try and find out what was going on behind the scenes.  Since we formed our breeding company he has been a frequent and welcome visitor, rarely missing an Open Trial. Tim and I were very happy to spend time with our good friend as his penetrating questions and ideas frequently directed us to new angles in our breeding. And he was always very encouraging, especially to the younger generation. It’s often said that no-one is irreplaceable. Peter was an exception."

Paul Rochford said: "Peter was first and foremost an inspiring and dedicated plantsman. His wit and charm were legendary and he was at ease in any setting. He was a tremendous force for horticulture and a good friend to our International Rose Trials. We will miss him greatly along with his collection of pens and notebooks!"

Majestic Trees' Steve McCurdy said: "I think the whole industry is in shock over Peter Seabrook’s passing on Friday. He was so full of energy, his enthusiasm was infectious and he had such a passion for life, especially for all things horticulture. Our industry will be a much poorer for the loss, as he was one of the real champions, who was always willing to stick his head above the parapet, challenging us to stand up for what was right. Yet at the same time he always remained humble, smiling all the time, a true gentleman in every way.

"I remember him well doing BBC Gardeners World, Pebble Mill at One, etc when I was a teenager, yet even at 86 years old he had far more energy that most of us did at 20! At one of the last IPM Essen’s, I can vividly remember him bounding down the hall to me so excited about what he saw, with him always looking out for new innovations, or quizzing anything he thought might have dubious biosecurity.

"However, his greatest passion was getting young people into horticulture, spending hours encouraging them and putting his money where his mouth was, in more ways than many of us know. He was a man of integrity, always willing to ‘call a spade a spade’, yet not having any enemies. Who will take up his mantel, as his challenges to industry will be sorely missed? And as he always signed off his emails, ‘In haste’, as he always said he had so much still to do."

Notcutts' Nick Burrows said: "All at Notcutts are greatly saddened by Peter Seabrook’s death. There is no question that he will be greatly missed by the whole sector. He was a man of great wisdom and fortitude with such a depth of knowledge. What a true ambassador, standard bearer and gentleman we have lost.  His legacy will live on for many decades to come and we should all be grateful to be in a horticultural world so enriched by his extraordinary contribution."

Alton Garden Centre's Andy Bunker said: "Peter was one of those people you just listened to and learned every time we met with his hands on experience he knew the answer but always had an ear for your opinion.

"Living local, I had been to his house on various occasions taking things like the outdoor orchid for him to give me his expert opinion on so I could pass on to my customers.

"Passing Hyde Hall every day I would see his car driving out after another full day of trialling and putting his ideas in to practice.

"Like us all I will miss him sadly and will struggle to replace that phone call to someone who knows or has an opinion."

Neil Gow said: "He will be a loss to the industry, and to some of us more than others, both personally and work wise, including of course the David Colegrave Foundation."

Elsoms' David Coop said: "I’ve known Peter all my working life, and found him to be always incredibly supportive and enthusiastic about whatever new product, trial, idea or visit we were discussing. He loved helping to spread new ideas and innovations, and could always see the advantages and possibilities for us gardeners. He relished a good discussion and was happy to point out potential improvements. Peter’s views weren’t always fashionable or well-received by our industry, but he argued his points well and always had our industry and gardeners’ best interests in mind.

"I was very pleased to welcome Peter to our Elsoms Open Day events in recent years, and was frankly astonished at his stamina. After having driven all the way from home to arrive bright and early, he then spend every moment possible out in the trials plots asking everyone questions about benefits and performance. He recorded many podcasts, took numerous photos, dug-up, tasted and compared endless varieties, talked to most of the other attendees, and was the last person to leave at the end of the day. After this he wrote-up some lovely articles, polished and broadcast his podcasts, updated social media and even sent a personal thank-you note. A true, hard-working professional."

The Sun colleague Val Bradley said: "Working with Peter for 20 years on The Sun's Gardening page was never dull. From the first day, being handed a carrier bag of reader letters to answer because he was getting 'a bit behind' (he'd always replied longhand) to the last, when he was stirring up the peat debate, which he felt was one-sided and dominated by NGOs who said a lot but never contributed to research into alternatives. 
"He went from writing his copy for the page on the back of a handy envelope on the train into London to emailing it in, but it was not an easy transition and he had a love-hate relationship with his computer. He always wanted to be the first to break news in the the gardening world and would drive the sub-editors at The Sun mad as his deadlines slipped past unheeded. He would push his submissions to the last possible moment in order to stay topical.
He was passionate about plants and gardening, always wanting the next 'novelty' for his Chelsea gardens and to offer to readers. He believed in getting children interested in plants so they understood more of the world around them and in the hope they would take up gardening for themselves. His fear was that poor quality plants and inadequate compost would drive new gardeners away.
"For the last two years, since his wife Margaret went into care and later died, he poured his energy into developing the Floral Fantasia garden at RHS Hyde Hall. He loved chatting to visitors and enjoyed their comments on the colourful displays. We are hoping to make this a permanent memorial garden in his honour."
Blue Diamond's Jill Kerr said: "I was saddened to hear the news of Peter's death. The Blue Diamond Group had worked with Peter to promote The Sun Newspaper's 'National Prettiest Rose Competitions' which Peter had run in 2018 and 2019. Peter was a supportive and enthusiastic man with a huge love of roses. He will be greatly missed."

Iain Wylie, Garden Centre Association chief executive, said: “We were very shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of Peter Seabrook’s passing last Friday (January 14, 2022).

“He was a huge supporter of garden centres and an integral member of our industry. Peter was in at the very beginning when our organisation was formed and has supported us throughout. He will be sorely missed.

“Peter played a big part in the early days of the GCA and was an Honorary Member. He attended our conferences and kept very much in touch with all that was going on with our organisation and the industry.

“He visited member centres and was keen to share best practice. He also spoke up for us on many issues on a national level and we were very proud to have him on our side.”

Retired seedsman Anthony Andrews said: "It came as a great shock to learn of Peter Seabrook’s sudden death on Friday, especially as we had been talking and emailing each other during the week.

"Peter and I go back fifty years to the time when he used to call in at Hurst’s trial grounds near Kelvedon to ‘borrow’ live plants to use in one of his many activities. In fact, the last BBC Gardeners' World he presented was filmed there in October 1979.

"His experience and knowledge in horticulture was second to none and yet he was always keen to lean something new.  He was one of the very few horticultural journalists that could converse just as well with the commercial growers sector of our industry as well as the retail sector and hobby gardeners.

"In recent years he has been doing so much to involve young people in schools to get their ‘fingers muddy’ and experience the joy and wonders of gardening. Over the years he had become a close friend to myself and my family. The industry will be poorer for his death. Our thoughts go out to his immediate family and colleagues on their sad loss."                                                                                                                                                Broadcaster Marian Foster said: "I was shocked to hear the sad news of Peter’s sudden death. I first worked with Peter in 1975 as co presenter on BBC’s Pebble Mill at One show where he broadcast a live slot every Friday afternoon. He was always a joy to work with, fun, kind, totally professional, he soon had millions of fans who loved his jovial chuckle, friendliness, and prodigious knowledge of gardening. 

We broadcast together from the RHS Chelsea show in the 1970s where he won silver gilt medals for a display of radishes grown by school children, and the following year for a replica of his DIG THIS vegetable garden project.  It was developed in the Pebble Mill garden to prove how well you could feed a family of four from a 10’x14’ plot spending only an hour’s work a week and £1worth of seeds. Thousands of viewers wrote in for factsheets every week and his 'Dig This' booklets sold over a million.   

In recent years I always looked forward to meeting him at horticultural events and greatly valued his advice and support. He never changed, he was always full of boundless energy and knowledge. His enthusiasm for life was infectious and an inspiration to young and old. He greatly deserved all the awards and accolades he received.   I will miss him. RIP Peter. My condolences to his family."

Moles Seeds' Stuart Donders said: "We were greatly saddened to here of the loss of Peter. He was a great champion of Horticulture, particularly flowers and colour. He had  great energy and passion which we can all aspire to. He will be sorely missed."

Floreus Horticultural Consultancy's Malcolm Catlin said: "I was shocked to hear of Peter’s sudden death. Endlessly supportive, hungry for more knowledge, eager to share his own and, above all, to promote the joy of plants and gardening. Just before Christmas we discussed a subject on which we didn’t fully agree, but he still offered to give up a day this spring to debate further. RIP Peter."

Angela Pawsey, director and company secretary Cants of Colchester: "Like everyone we were shocked to hear of Peter Seabrook's death. At Cants  over the years had many contacts with Peter . In 2015,  when we celebrated 250 years, we were honoured to have Peter as a guest at a small luncheon party. This being  attended by family, current and ex-employees and partners. As usual Peter was animated and interesting presence.  Our previous encounter was when  he came to our then rose field to look over some seedlings; from various sources to select one to promote the Sun Newspaper. This variety was eventually given the name ‘Sunfire’, and launched by the Sun in 2010 and remains popular to this day. We have also been following the peat debate with interest. We did experiment with a peat alternative in our potting  compost a few years ago. We had a sample  of our soil based compost made up to our normal  formula replacing the peat.  The results were disappointing  and  we do not see an alternative for Peat."

Professor Geoff Dixon said: "Sad to see his passing, he'll go down as one of horticulture and gardening's great personalities - that about sums him up."

Rolawn's Terry Ryan said: "Throughout my time at Rolawn, Peter was always a pleasure to deal with. Never demanding, ever courteous and immensley knowledgeable. A true gentleman."

ProLawnCare's Richard Salmon said: "Peter was a well liked, approachable and incredibly enthusiastic man. A great loss to his family and the horticultural industry."

PTMD's Lolly Lee said: "Peter was a very kind and generous man. I had the honour of working with him on one of his many projects encouraging teenagers into the wonders of propagating a seed into a beautiful plant. The project was in Kidbrooke London, I recall his patience and enthusiasm. I also echo what others have written, he was a complete gentleman. I was very fortunate to bump into him at Chelsea Flower Show last year and as ever he was lovely. A very sad loss to the gardening world but his Legacy is all the people that he had introduced to gardening which I’m sure would make him very happy."

Horticulturist Howard Drury said: "Peter’s death has come as a huge shock to as many of us who had got to know and love him and understand how he had helped and advised us over many years, and I whole heartedly support all the most moving tributes to this fantastic man. I was literally writing a long article about Peters view on the Peat issue when this tragedy happened.  I would like to add a couple of extra tributes not mentioned so far. Firstly, he had a fantastic sense of humour, even if others around him were down, there was always a good way out of a problem, and it would be Peters way.

"Many years ago, most of the gardening press were gathered in Ipswich at a seed company’s press day to hear about the 42 new flower introductions and 16 new vegetable introductions. After a lively coffee and chat we were ushered into a very posh room and all the lights were dimmed as speaker after speaker reeled off why we should be growing these new introductions next year. Last came the vegetables, with so many reasons why we should grow and eat carrots, we were then informed the lights would be put on so we could see and taste the various carrots. As this was taking place the speaker asked for questions. From the back of the room armed with his notebook Peter stood up and was asked for his question to which he asked, ‘If you are right about the carrots being so good for our eyesight why didn’t you give us the carrots first before the presentation, that way I would have been able to see what I was writing in the dark!’ before as always asking the right important questions.

"Secondly was Peter's standards, he always wore a floral tie, wherever I met him we both would be wearing a floral tie, and this goes back to the early 1980’s. Only last September Peter came over to me at GLEE and remarked we were keeping the standards up waving his tie, while asking me to give a talk to his local gardening club in September 2022, offering to put me and my wife up for the night after the talk. I shall give that talk in September thinking Peter will be there listening to my every word and watching my presentation with me wearing my floral tie, which I will always continue to do in his memory."

Rosebourne marketing manager Gill Ormrod said: "Such sad news and a huge loss to the industry. So passionate about horticulture and generous in sharing his knowledge to all. A real horticultural legend. RIP Peter - you will be greatly missed."

Publisher Seamus Geoghegan said: "He will be missed by all of us lucky enough to have worked with him but through the sadness we will celebrate him too."

Aeroplas's Rob Boswijk said: "He was a great friend to our industry and to my family. RIP Peter."

Z Flowers Philip Smith said: "A great man with a passion & voice for the Horticulural indstry Peter will be sadly missed."

Wendy Curtis said: "So sad. I met Peter at last year’s Chelsea. We had a chat and when I told him what I did he shoke my hand . What a gentleman."

Anke Buehrmann said: "That's so sad. Peter was such a lovely, special person and did so much for horticulture. He wrote a sympathetic heartfelt letter when my husband died last year and I was going to contact Peter to ask him about a project to motivate younger people to choose horticulture as a career. I hope there is a place like heaven and Peter can be together with Margaret again."

Four Oaks' Christina Walker said: "I was so very sorry to hear the sad news of Peter’s passing. The flood of heartfelt tributes to him are fitting for an extremely special individual who touched so many lives."

Colin Squire said: "We were so sorry to hear of the sudden death of Peter Seabrook. He was such a special man, full of such energy and enthusiasm and I will miss him very much, personally and as a fine ambassador for our industry. I find it very hard to believe he will no longer be with us with his
ideas, his smile and his friendship. I have known Peter since the early 1960s. I first met him at a nurseryman’s conference at Pershore and I spoke with him about my wish to open a garden centre, Peter was extremely helpful with suggestions and people to contact. When the HTA retail group became the Garden Centre Association in 1966 Peter and I were among the founding members and the first chairman was Charles Nottcutt. For a period, Peter was an inspector for the GCA. I think it would be fair to say that Peter played a hugely significant role in the success of our industry, through GCA, through his journalism and his sheer enthusiasm for plants and gardening. My most recent contact with Peter was at BBC Gardeners World Live last summer in Birmingham, where he designed a beautiful rose garden. I subsequently had a brief chat with him at Chelsea in the autumn. Over the years Peter helped many of us in the garden centre industry to exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show through his imaginative Sunflower Street. Peter believed gardening was for everyone and his columns in The Sun made gardening
approachable, understandable and fun for millions of people. His journalism also promoted so many exciting new plants which supported British growers and retailers. Peter’s boundless enthusiasm for plants, gardening and people will be sadly missed by so many of us. Three generations of the Squire family were privileged to know Peter. My late father D.J. Squire, myself and my daughter all shared a deep respect and affection for him. So many colleagues at Squire’s have all told me in the last few days how highly they regarded Peter. He was truly loved and respected by so many in our industry and beyond."
VegTrug's Paul Owen: "I had the pleasure of meeting Peter at many trade  shows and some local social events and each time his enthusiasm and vigour for the horticulture industry shone through, I was so honoured to be invited to talk on his podcast a few years ago and our business from the very beginning has enjoyed his wealth of knowledge and his precise and thought provoking questions. A true gentleman and a global horticultural legend! Condolences to his family."
Michael Oliver, former UK Sales Manager and UK Marketing Officer at Bord na Mona, said: "I had the privilege of studying at Writtle with Peter and working with him at Bord na Mona. His plant knowledge, technical and trade knowledge were unsurpassed. Peter respected the horticultural skills and knowledge of all he met. I always thought he would die double digging his sweet pea bed or just fade away.  He was a gentleman and a nice bloke. I will miss him."
Sarah Tull said: "I am very saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Seabrook. I was privileged to be awarded the Seabrook scholarship to study the foundation degree in horticulture at Writtle College in 2008. Peter was a great inspiration and mentor to me during my early career in horticulture. I can't thank him enough for the knowledge he shared with me and experience of working along side him at Chelsea Flower Show in 2009. Peter's passion and dedication to horticulture seemed endless."

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