Peter Seabrook obituary | Gardens


Peter Seabrook, who has died aged 86, brought gardening to millions of people today through his broadcasting and producing, standing up for conventional values when advertising and marketing new plant breeding and innovation. He normally said he was the most-examine backyard journalist in Britain, proclaiming 10 million readers for his weekly internet pages of gardening assistance, promotions, belief and campaigns in the Sunshine and all through his stint on the BBC’s Gardeners’ Globe in the 1970s the clearly show often captivated 8 million viewers a 7 days.

Seabrook represented back-to-fundamentals gardening and, while relentlessly looking for out scientific breakthroughs in plant breeding and production, he was critical of the modish and the unwell-informed. He would question “Who likes backyard style and design?” and would often criticise the advice supplied by some of his successors on gardening Television, who probably had not carried out the tough yards he experienced included throughout his early times in horticulture.

Seabrook was born in Chelmsford, Essex, the son of Emma (nee Cottey) and Robert Seabrook. His father worked in a ball-bearing factory as a resource grinder but Peter was introduced up on his grandparents’ farm in nearby Galleywood. Educated at King Edward VI grammar university in the city, he researched horticulture at Writtle College, and started his vocation in the 50s, with his values instilled from a background in farming and nationwide support. He labored to begin with for the seed retailers and nurserymen Cramphorn from 1958 until eventually 1966, then for the Irish peat board Bord na Mona from 1966 until finally 1970.

Peter Seabrook checking out a Belgian flower demonstrate, the Floralies of Ghent, for the BBC in 1985

It was in the course of the 60s that crops ended up initially sold in containers, somewhat than bare root, and Seabrook was in on the innovation, which assisted produce garden centres as we know them these days, as vendors could market plants in pots 12 months-round somewhat than just in period.

His skills led him to start off producing for trade journals – he received his 1st crafting occupation at a nurseryman journal by pointing out factual faults to the editor – and then broke into radio with the BBC’s In Your Back garden (1965-70). This led to Tv appearances, including the afternoon present Back garden Diary on Anglia Television, which was cancelled in 1974 since of cuts brought about by the a few-working day week. He shifted to the preferred lunchtime programme Pebble Mill at One particular from 1975 until eventually 1986. Just after the BBC sacked its home-title presenter Percy Thrower for advertising ICI, from 1976 right up until 1979 Seabrook presented the flagship gardening clearly show Gardeners’ Earth.

The new presenter acquired £75 a programme, studying, presenting, responding to letters with sage information and at times making. The thousands of letters he answered in longhand fashioned the foundation of his humorous immediately after-dinner talking. One particular cheeky correspondent claimed Seabrook’s gardening expertise handed muster, so he would be appropriate to have a tendency their back garden although they were on vacation. They then stated dates, place and the work they desired accomplishing.

Seabrook was succeeded on the present by the organic and natural gardener Geoff Hamilton, with whom he had several skirmishes all through his career, as their views on gardening were diametrically opposed. They even consulted legal professionals at one position. Seabrook, inspite of staying faithful, gentlemanly, charming and personable, was under no circumstances one particular to again down on his strongly held views on controversial subjects these kinds of as the price of using peat to develop crops in.

A short while ago, he experienced campaigned for the govt to rethink its plan to ban peat, which is greatly deemed to be environmentally harming. To the very last, he fought towards what he saw as woolly wondering and inadequate horticultural standards, in all people from the BBC to the RHS. However, Seabrook was found throughout the world (in the US he hosted PBS collection The Victory Backyard garden from 1975 to 1997) as the archetypal English previous-college gardener, and was much liked for it.

He was at any time-present at the RHS Chelsea flower exhibit from 1952 and, soon after starting up work at the tabloid in 1977, introduced the Sunlight gardens there, developed by schoolchildren and bursting with new plant types.

His wife, Margaret, whom he married in 1960 right after meeting her at horticulture faculty, died in 2020 of Covid-19 following living with Alzheimer’s for nearly a ten years. Characteristically, Seabrook released a plant, Verbena “Margaret’s Memory”, to elevate dollars for the Alzheimer’s Society. The pale pink perennial was planted at RHS Back garden Hyde Corridor, close to his household in Chelmsford, the place he created the Floral Fantasia bedding plant displays. Margaret’s death led him to generate a heartfelt plea to the authorities asking for the reopening of backyard centres throughout lockdown for the excellent of the nation’s psychological well being.

He was appointed MBE in 2005 and was the only person to hold the RHS’s leading three awards, the Victoria medal of honour (awarded in 2003), Associate of Honour and Harlow Carr medal.

In an report marking his 85th birthday in 2020, in the magazine Horticulture 7 days, for which he was an belief writer, he claimed that he nonetheless experienced “so significantly to do, so a great deal 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



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