His great-great grandfather was thought to have worked as a gardener at Osborne House, his grandfather worked for a Hampstead nursery. His sons took over the nursery in 1904 as LR Russell.
Lou Russell's father John focused on a new tree and shrub nursery at Windlesham in Surrey, purchased in 1936.
Lou joined John in 1947, with a buoyant mail-order trade until the 1970s, stopping growing in 1976. He ran a garden centre on the nursery from 1958 until he sold it in 1987. Lou Russell ran his own garden design and consultancy business until he retired in 1999.
The Russells won 51 RHS Gold Medals over 35 years, including for fuchsia and tree and shrub exhibits at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
John and Lou Russell served 25 years each on the RHS Floral B Tree & Shrub Committee and 10 years each on the RHS council. Lou also wrote The Russells in Horticulture 1800-2000.