In 1975 Phillips began his life’s major work of photographing and publishing pictures of the world’s garden plants. Using modern photographic techniques, he set out to develop an encyclopedic collection of books to show the difference between plants as diverse as mosses, roses and annuals. His first book ‘Wild Flowers of Britain’ was a huge success, selling 400,000 copies in the first year. He wrote more than 30 additional books (often with his co-author Martyn Rix) selling over 4.5 million copies worldwide.
Phillips was best known as an expert on roses and fungi. He was Honorary Garden Manager at Ecclestone Square in London and in the 2010 New Year's Honours List was awarded the MBE for services to London Garden Squares.
He wrote and presented two six-part TV series on gardening (BBC & Channel 4). Famed for his ebullient personality and garish red glasses, he has become a well-recognised figure in the world of gardening.
Phillips trained at Chelsea School of Art from where he entered a career in advertising culminating in the position of art director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. He left O&M to start a career as a freelance photographer, winning many awards before turning his photographic talents to the world of natural history.
He was managing director of RogersRoses.com from 2001 and his books included Vegetables: The Definitive Guide for Gardeners and The Random House Book of Perennials (both with Martyn Rix), Wild Food, Mushrooms, and The Botanical Garden.
Plants for Europe's Graham Spencer said: "So many great books came from Roger Phillips pen and camera. I have several on my shelf, still referred to regularly."
Designer Darryl Moore said: "Roger Phillips' legacy will live on in his great books. I always encourage students to forage in charity shops for these info-rich volumes. Some of the only plant books, for the general public, to show them in their habitats."