September 27, 2022

Peter Seabrook obituary | Gardens

Peter Seabrook, who has died aged 86, brought gardening to tens of millions of people via his broadcasting and writing, standing up for common values while selling new plant breeding and innovation. He frequently said he was the most-browse backyard journalist in Britain, saying 10 million viewers for his weekly pages of gardening information, promotions, viewpoint and campaigns in the Sun and in the course of his stint on the BBC’s Gardeners’ World in the 1970s the demonstrate routinely attracted 8 million viewers a week.

Seabrook represented back again-to-basics gardening and, when relentlessly seeking out scientific breakthroughs in plant breeding and generation, he was important of the modish and the ill-educated. He would request “Who likes garden style and design?” and would frequently criticise the suggestions provided by some of his successors on gardening Television set, who probably experienced not finished the really hard yards he experienced protected during his early days in horticulture.

Seabrook was born in Chelmsford, Essex, the son of Emma (nee Cottey) and Robert Seabrook. His father worked in a ball-bearing manufacturing unit as a software grinder but Peter was introduced up on his grandparents’ farm in nearby Galleywood. Educated at King Edward VI grammar university in the town, he examined horticulture at Writtle Higher education, and began his profession in the 50s, with his values instilled from a background in farming and national provider. He worked to begin with for the seed merchants and nurserymen Cramphorn from 1958 until finally 1966, then for the Irish peat board Bord na Mona from 1966 till 1970.

Peter Seabrook discovering a Belgian flower present, the Floralies of Ghent, for the BBC in 1985

It was in the course of the 60s that crops have been initially sold in containers, somewhat than bare root, and Seabrook was in on the innovation, which served develop backyard centres as we know them now, as shops could market vegetation in pots calendar year-round relatively than just in time.

His abilities led him to start creating for trade journals – he acquired his first crafting position at a nurseryman journal by pointing out factual problems to the editor – and then broke into radio with the BBC’s In Your Garden (1965-70). This led to Television appearances, which includes the afternoon demonstrate Garden Diary on Anglia Tv, which was cancelled in 1974 for the reason that of cuts brought about by the 3-day week. He shifted to the preferred lunchtime programme Pebble Mill at A single from 1975 until finally 1986. Soon after the BBC sacked its home-identify presenter Percy Thrower for advertising ICI, from 1976 till 1979 Seabrook introduced the flagship gardening show Gardeners’ World.

The new presenter acquired £75 a programme, studying, presenting, responding to letters with sage advice and sometimes producing. The countless numbers of letters he answered in longhand shaped the foundation of his humorous after-supper talking. One cheeky correspondent reported Seabrook’s gardening expertise handed muster, so he would be suitable to are inclined their yard whilst they had been on holiday. They then detailed dates, locale and the perform they required carrying out.

Seabrook was succeeded on the demonstrate by the organic gardener Geoff Hamilton, with whom he had quite a few skirmishes for the duration of his vocation, as their views on gardening were being diametrically opposed. They even consulted legal professionals at one place. Seabrook, irrespective of being faithful, gentlemanly, charming and personable, was never a person to back down on his strongly held sights on controversial topics such as the value of utilizing peat to expand plants in.

Just lately, he had campaigned for the authorities to reconsider its system to ban peat, which is greatly viewed as to be environmentally damaging. To the past, he fought towards what he saw as woolly considering and poor horticultural expectations, in anyone from the BBC to the RHS. However, Seabrook was observed around the world (in the US he hosted PBS series The Victory Backyard from 1975 to 1997) as the archetypal English outdated-university gardener, and was significantly loved for it.

He was at any time-current at the RHS Chelsea flower show from 1952 and, after commencing function at the tabloid in 1977, offered the Solar gardens there, grown by schoolchildren and bursting with new plant varieties.

His wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1960 soon after assembly her at horticulture higher education, died in 2020 of Covid-19 after living with Alzheimer’s for virtually a 10 years. Characteristically, Seabrook released a plant, Verbena “Margaret’s Memory”, to elevate income for the Alzheimer’s Modern society. The pale pink perennial was planted at RHS Back garden Hyde Corridor, near his home in Chelmsford, the place he made the Floral Fantasia bedding plant shows. Margaret’s demise led him to produce a heartfelt plea to the governing administration inquiring for the reopening of backyard centres during lockdown for the great of the nation’s mental wellness.

He was appointed MBE in 2005 and was the only person to maintain the RHS’s top rated a few awards, the Victoria medal of honour (awarded in 2003), Associate of Honour and Harlow Carr medal.

In an short article marking his 85th birthday in 2020, in the journal Horticulture Week, for which he was an impression writer, he claimed that he even now experienced “so a lot to do, so a lot to learn”.

He is survived by a son, Roger, and daughter, Alison, and two grandchildren.

Peter John Seabrook, gardener, born 2 November 1935 died 14 January 2022