Roger Aylett dies aged 76-obituary

Ayletts Nursery founder Roger Aylett passed away on 18 May aged 76 years.

A display by Aylett Nurseries which won the Williams Memorial medal in 1977 - image: Aylett Nurseries
A display by Aylett Nurseries which won the Williams Memorial medal in 1977 - image: Aylett Nurseries

Roger Aylett started his own business - Aylett Nurseries on 7 ½ acres of land near St Albans at the age of 21 in 1953. 

He trained at Oaklands College which at that time was solely for the study of agriculture and horticulture and was located on the Hatfield Road St Albans.

In the 1980s Aylett became a governor of Oaklands and always took a keen interest in the training of young aspiring horticulturists. 

Initially, he grew glasshouse crops on the nursery but soon developed his childhood interest - dahlias.  Very soon stunning dahlia exhibits were wooing the public around the country and plants were despatched to all corners of Britain. Aylett Nurseries won many top awards for these displays including 36 consecutive gold medals between 1961 and 1999 at the Royal Horticultural Society shows. At the Great Autumn Show of 1977 the nursery was awarded  the Williams Memorial Medal, presented for the best exhibit of plants and/or flowers of a single genus staged at one of the Society shows during the course of a year. This great achievement was repeated again in 1994. 

For over 30 years he was a valued member of the RHS Shows and Dahlia Committees. He was also regularly seen assessing the dahlia trials at Wisley and the National Dahlia Society awarded him their Silver Medal in 1999.  The previous year he was overjoyed to receive recognition from the RHS with the award of the Veitch Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to the science and practice of horticulture.  This moment he later described as representing the pinnacle of his career.

Best described as a "pioneer", he developed the family business into a successful independent garden centre.  In 2005, he published his autobiography 50 Golden Gardening Years. Earlier this year Aylett Nurseries received the accolade of Gardening Which "best buy" - rated the third best independent garden centre in the UK.  As managing director, he was justly proud of these achievements. 

He was very involved within the local community and a true gentleman - quiet, unassuming, kind and generous.  His interests were his family, to whom he was devoted - and Aylett Nurseries Ltd.  He is survived by his wife, Hazel, his two married daughters, Julie and Sally, and four grandchildren.



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