Thompson and Morgan

Last updated
Thompson & Morgan
Privately held
Founded1855 Ipswich, England
Headquarters Ipswich, England
ProductsSeeds, young plants (UK), and garden sundries
Website www.thompson-morgan.com

Thompson & Morgan is an independently-owned company based in Ipswich, Suffolk. Founded in 1855, [1] Thompson and Morgan offer English plants, seeds and sundries worldwide through their websites. The U.S. division of the company was sold to Gardens Alive in 2009. [2]

Ipswich Town and Borough in England

Ipswich is a historic county town in Suffolk, England, located in East Anglia about 66 miles (106 km) north east of London. The town has been continuously occupied since the Saxon period, and its port has been one of England's most important for the whole of its history. The modern name is derived from the medieval name Gippeswic, likely taken either from an Old Saxon personal name or from an earlier name of the Orwell estuary. It has also been known as Gyppewicus and Yppswyche.

Suffolk County of England

Suffolk is an East Anglian county of historic origin in England. It has borders with Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south. The North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; other important towns include Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket and Felixstowe, one of the largest container ports in Europe.

Contents

Overview

The company distributes their products through its mail order catalogues, the Internet and retail outlets. Their various websites feature over 8,000 products, showcasing the entire Thompson and Morgan range.

Seed catalogues are distributed to 163 countries worldwide. Thompson and Morgan seeds are stocked in the following countries: Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, USA, Canada, Korea, and Japan.

Seed embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering

A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction in seed plants, the spermatophytes, including the gymnosperm and angiosperm plants.

History

Thompson and Morgan had its origins in a small garden behind a baker's shop in Ipswich, where a young William Thompson's passion for botany grew. His specialty was growing rare and unusual plants whose seeds were sent from countries all over the world. Not only did it provide a sense of adventure for Thompson, it also established friendships with such scientists as Charles Darwin, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and Sir Michael Foster.

Botany science of plant life

Botany, also called plant science(s), plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη (botanē) meaning "pasture", "grass", or "fodder"; βοτάνη is in turn derived from βόσκειν (boskein), "to feed" or "to graze". Traditionally, botany has also included the study of fungi and algae by mycologists and phycologists respectively, with the study of these three groups of organisms remaining within the sphere of interest of the International Botanical Congress. Nowadays, botanists study approximately 410,000 species of land plants of which some 391,000 species are vascular plants, and approximately 20,000 are bryophytes.

Charles Darwin British naturalist, author of "On the Origin of Species, by Means of Natural Selection"

Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Michael Foster (physiologist) English physiologist

Sir Michael Foster was an English physiologist. He was instrumental in organizing the Cambridge Biological School and acted as Secretary of the Royal Society.

From the back garden he moved to a nursery at the edge of Ipswich and then to an even larger one. Eventually there were three of Thompson’s nurseries in the town. At this time, Thompson began to publish a magazine called The English Flower Garden. [3] [4]

Plant nursery facility where plants are propagated and grown to usable size

A nursery is a place where plants are propagated and grown to a desired age. They include retail nurseries which sell to the general public, wholesale nurseries which sell only to businesses such as other nurseries and to commercial gardeners, and private nurseries which supply the needs of institutions or private estates.

In 1855, after moving from that small 'starter' garden, Thompson issued his first catalogue. He specialised in growing rare and unusual plants, seeds of which were sent to him from many overseas countries. His efforts made him one of the most distinguished plantsmen of his day and he was honored by the Royal Horticultural Society with the Victorian Medal of Honor in 1896.

Royal Horticultural Society registered charity in the UK which promotes gardening and horticulture

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), founded in 1804 as the Horticultural Society of London, is the UK's leading gardening charity.

With the seed-raising firm expanding, William Thompson started his partnership with John Morgan. John provided the business acumen that enabled Thompson & Morgan's continued solid growth. Thompson died in July 1903 at the age of 80, having lived to see Thompson & Morgan become one of the country's greatest seed firms with a reputation for introducing more species and varieties to the British gardening public than any other company.

Gardening Practice of growing and cultivating plants

Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture. In gardens, ornamental plants are often grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants, such as root vegetables, leaf vegetables, fruits, and herbs, are grown for consumption, for use as dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use. Gardening is considered by many people to be a relaxing activity.

John Morgan spent the next ten years as sole owner until he partnered with Joseph Sangster in 1913. Sangster was a brilliant horticulturalist who was to add 4,000 plant names to the 2,000 already offered in the T&M catalogue. He took full control of the company upon John's death in 1921.

Joseph's son Murray joined the company in 1933 and the following year Joseph was elected President of the Horticultural Trades Association of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1939, T&M became a limited company and when Joseph died in 1952, Murray Sangster took control. His two sons, Keith and Bruce, joined Murray later. In 1973, they decided to expand their distribution centre in Poplar Lane, Ipswich from where the company still operates. In 1982, Bruce Sangster headed the company's expansion in the US after previously having a distribution base in Jackson, New Jersey. In 1995 this was followed up by the creation of a young plants division in Guernsey in The British Channel Islands. The Sangster brothers subsequently relinquished control of the business in December 1999 for £17.5m.

In May 2002, Thompson & Morgan returned to independent private ownership by Primary Capital Partners,the Sangster brothers and key management. The company was sold to BVG Group in March 2017 through the acquisition of their parent company, Branded Garden Products for an undisclosed amount, however the sale price was estimated at £10m. [5] The new group will have a combined turnover of £140m, with an EBITDA in the region of £13.5m. [5] [6] [7]

Awards

In the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018's 'Plant of the year' competition, Thompson & Morgan plants were awarded 1st and 3rd place. [8]

Catalogue

The first Thompson and Morgan catalogue was created in 1855. They now produce over 20 different catalogues that are distributed in the UK, US, French and German markets. Catalogues are distributed by mail and can be requested directly from the company by telephone or via their websites.

Related Research Articles

<i>Geranium</i> Genus of plants

Geranium is a genus of 422 species of flowering annual, biennial, and perennial plants that are commonly known as the cranesbills. They are found throughout the temperate regions of the world and the mountains of the tropics, but mostly in the eastern part of the Mediterranean region.

<i>Campsis radicans</i> species of plant

Campsis radicans, is a species of flowering plant of the family Bignoniaceae, native to the eastern United States and naturalized in parts of the western United States as well as in Ontario, parts of Europe, and scattered locations in Latin America. Growing to 10 m (33 ft), it is a vigorous, deciduous woody vine, notable for its showy trumpet-shaped flowers. It inhabits woodlands and riverbanks, and is also a popular garden subject.

Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens in Karnataka, India

Lalbagh Botanical Gardens or Lalbagh is an old botanical garden in Bengaluru, India. First planned and laid out during the rule of Hyder Ali and later adorned with unique plant species by his son Tipu Sultan, it was later managed under numerous British Superintendents before Indian Independence. It was responsible for the introduction and propagation of numerous ornamental plants as well as those of economic value. It also served a social function as a park and recreational space, with a central glass house dating from 1890 which was used for flower shows. In modern times it hosts two flower shows coinciding with the week of Republic Day and Independence Day. As an urban green space along with Cubbon Park, it is also home to numerous wild species of birds and other wildlife. The garden also has a lake adjoining a large rock on which a watchtower had been constructed during the reign of Kempegowda II.

<i>Wisteria sinensis</i> species of plant

Wisteria sinensis is a species of flowering plant in the pea family, native to China, in the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Shaanxi, and Yunnan. Growing 20–30 m (66–98 ft) tall, it is a deciduous vine. It is widely cultivated in temperate regions for its twisting stems and masses of scented flowers in hanging racemes, in spring.

<i>Heliotropium arborescens</i> species of plant

Heliotropium arborescens, the garden heliotrope, is a species of flowering plant in the borage family Boraginaceae, native to Peru. Growing to 1.2 m (3.9 ft) tall and broad, it is a bushy, evergreen, short-lived shrub with dense clusters of bright purple flowers, notable for their intense, rather vanilla-like fragrance. Common names also include cherry pie and common heliotrope. Note that the common name "garden heliotrope" may also refer to valerian (herb), which is not closely related.

<i>Ulmus davidiana <span style="font-style:normal;">var.</span> japonica</i> variety of plants

Ulmus davidiana var. japonica, the Japanese elm, is one of the larger and more graceful Asiatic elms, endemic to much of continental northeast Asia and Japan, where it grows in swamp forest on young alluvial soils, although much of this habitat has now been lost to intensive rice cultivation.

<i>Ulmus</i> × <i>hollandica</i> Smithii

The hybrid elm cultivar Ulmus × hollandica 'Smithii', commonly known as the Downton Elm, was one of a number of cultivars arising from the crossing of the Wych Elm U. glabra with the Field Elm U. minor. The tree was originally planted at Downton Castle near Ludlow, as one of a batch, not all of them pendulous in habit, raised at Smith's Nursery, Worcester, England, from seeds obtained from a tree in Nottingham in 1810.

<i>Silene coronaria</i> species of plant

Silene coronaria is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family Caryophyllaceae, native to Asia and Europe. Common names include rose campion, dusty miller, mullein-pink, bloody William, and lamp-flower. A white form 'Alba' is available

The national headquarters for Park Seed Company, Jackson & Perkins, and Wayside Gardens is located in Greenwood, South Carolina. The headquarters complex is surrounded by 9 acres (36,000 m2) of land that are maintained by the Park Seed Company for many purposes. The trial gardens previously featured on the grounds closed in 2013 as the company shifted to a fully eCommerce based retail platform.

<i>Ulmus</i> Purpurea species of plant

The elm cultivar Ulmus 'Purpurea', the purple-leaved elm, was listed and described as Ulmus Stricta Purpurea, the 'Upright Purpled-leaved Elm', by John Frederick Wood, F.H.S., in The Midland Florist and Suburban Horticulturist (1851), as Ulmus purpureaHort. by Wesmael (1863), and as Ulmus campestris var. purpurea, syn. Ulmus purpureaHort. by Petzold and Kirchner in Arboretum Muscaviense (1864). Koch's description followed (1872), the various descriptions appearing to tally. Henry (1913) noted that the Ulmus campestris var. purpureaPetz. & Kirchn. grown at Kew as U. montana var. purpurea was "probably of hybrid origin", Ulmus montana being used at the time both for wych elm cultivars and for some of the U. × hollandica group. His description of Kew's U. montana var. purpurea matches that of the commonly-planted 'Purpurea' of the 20th century. His discussion of it (1913) under U. campestris, however, his name for English Elm, may be the reason why 'Purpurea' is sometimes erroneously called U. procera 'Purpurea' (as in USA and Sweden.

<i>Ulmus</i> Crispa

The elm cultivar Ulmus 'Crispa' [:'curled', the leaf margin], sometimes known as the Fernleaf Elm, arose before 1800 and was first listed by Willdenow as U. crispa (1809). Audibert listed an U. campestrisLinn. 'Crispa', orme à feuilles crépues [:'frizzy-leaved elm'], in 1817, and an Ulmus urticaefolia [:'nettle-leaved elm'] in 1832; the latter is usually taken to be a synonym. Loudon considered the tree a variety of U. montana (1838). In the 19th century, Ulmus × hollandica cultivars, as well as those of Wych Elm, were often grouped under Ulmus montana. Elwes and Henry (1913) listed 'Crispa' as a form of wych elm, but made no mention of the non-wych samara.

The hybrid elm cultivar Ulmus × hollandica 'Cinerea' was first listed by George Lindley in 1815, as Ulmus cinerea, the Ash-coloured Elm, and later by the André Leroy Nurseries, Angers, France, in 1856. It was distributed as Ulmus cinerea by the Baudriller nursery, Angers, and as Ulmus montana cinerea by Louis van Houtte of Ghent. A specimen in cultivation at Kew in 1964 was found to be U. × hollandica, but the tree at Wakehurst Place remains listed as U. glabra 'Cinerea'.

<i>Prunus tomentosa</i> species of plant

The Nanking cherry is a species of Prunus native to northern and western China, Korea, Mongolia, and possibly northern India. Other common names for P. tomentosa include Korean cherry, Manchu cherry, downy cherry, Shanghai cherry, Ando cherry, mountain cherry, Chinese bush cherry, or Chinese dwarf cherry.

Joseph Breck (1794–1873), a notable businessman and horticulturist of the 19th century, was born in Medfield, Massachusetts. He moved to Pepperell, Massachusetts in 1817, working in the chaise carriage manufacturing business while also exploring his passion for horticulture in his gardens. His interest in flowers and plants developed into a career as an editor, from 1822 to 1846, of the New England Farmer, one of the earliest agricultural magazines established in the U.S., and the first of its kind in New England.

<i>Osmanthus delavayi</i> species of plant

Osmanthus delavayi is a species of flowering plant in the olive family Oleaceae. It is an evergreen shrub native to the Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of southern China, and widely cultivated as an ornamental in temperate and subtropical zones elsewhere.

<i>Lotus hirsutus</i> species of plant

Lotus hirsutus, also known by the synonym Dorycnium hirsutum, common name: canary clover or hairy canary-clover, is a species of flowering plant in the legume family Fabaceae.

<i>Ulmus minor</i> Dicksonii cultivar of plant

The Field Elm cultivar Ulmus minor 'Dicksonii', commonly known as Dickson's Golden Elm, is a yellow-leaved tree raised in Chester in 1900 by Dickson's Nursery, which distributed it from the autumn of 1907 as 'Golden Cornish Elm'. 'Cornish Elm' was the name often given in error to Guernsey or Wheatley Elm by the local authorities who planted the latter extensively, an error which may have influenced the choice of name by Dickson's nursery. 'Dicksonii' is usually listed as a variety of Guernsey Elm rather than Cornish Elm, Bean giving 'Wheatleyi Aurea' as a synonym, and Hillier U. × sarniensis 'Dicksonii'. Clibran's nursery of Altrincham, however, described it (1922) as otherwise identical "in habit and constitution" to 'type' Cornish Elm. The Späth nursery of Berlin distributed it from c.1913 as U. campestris cornubiensis Dicksonii. The nursery Messieurs Otin père et fils of Saint-Étienne sold an Ulmus Wheatleyi aurea pyramidalis, with leaves marbled yellow, in 1882, earlier than Dickson's introduction.

<i>Hypericum kouytchense</i> species of plant

Hypericum kouytchense, the large-flowered St John’s wort, is a species of flowering plant in the family Hypericaceae, native to Western China. Growing up to 3 ft (0.91 m) tall and 5 ft (1.5 m) wide, it is a semi-evergreen rounded shrub with blue-green leaves and large yellow flowers with prominent stamens, appearing in midsummer. Flowers are followed by red seed capsules in autumn. Where conditions are favourable it can retain its leaves all year.

Theodosia Burr Shepherd Botanist and horticulturist with commercial enterprise in Ventura, California

Theodosia Burr Shepherd was an American botanist, horticulturist and pioneer in plant breeding. Called the “Flower Wizard of California”, and "The Pioneer Seed-grower", Theodosia was the first woman in California and possibly in the United States to hybridize flowers.

References

  1. Bloomberg Company Overview
  2. Total Retail (25 September 2009). "Gardens Alive! Acquires England-Based Seed Company's U.S. Operations". Total Retail. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  3. English Flower Garden : a monthly magazine of hardy and half-hardy plants by W. Thompson. on Archive.org
  4. English flower garden of hardy and half-hardy plants by W. Thompson on Hatitrust.
  5. 1 2 "T&M sale brings welcome stability for horticulture" . Retrieved 2017-05-16.
  6. Ducan Brodie (25 March 2017). "Seed firm Thompson & Morgan to remain in Ipswich following acquisition by BVG Group". Ipswichstar. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  7. Muhammad Aldalou (9 March 2017). "Historic horticultural company sold by PE owner". Ipswichstar. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  8. Rice, Graham (2018-05-22). "Chelsea Flower Show 2018: Plant of the year revealed - but is it a winner?". The Telegraph. ISSN   0307-1235 . Retrieved 2018-06-13.