Thompson and Morgan

Last updated
Thompson & Morgan
Privately held
Founded1855 Ipswich, England
Headquarters Ipswich, England
ProductsSeeds, young plants (UK), and garden sundries

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.



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.


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]


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


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.

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  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
  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.