Horticulture legend dies aged 98

THE world of horticulture was last night mourning the death of one of its most renowned figures.Alan Bloom, founder of the famous nursery and steam museum, died at his home, Bressingham Hall, near Diss, on Wednesday at the age of 98.

THE world of horticulture was last night mourning the death of one of its most renowned figures.

Alan Bloom, founder of the famous nursery and steam museum, died at his home, Bressingham Hall, near Diss, on Wednesday at the age of 98.

Instantly recognisable by his long white hair, Mr Bloom created the six-acre Dell garden at Bressingham, where he pioneered the use of hardy perennials in "island beds" in the mid 1950s.

He was responsible for breeding and introducing a wide range of nearly 200 varieties of perennials, amongst the most famous being Crocosmia Lucifer, Astilbe Sprite, Achillea Moonshine, Geranium Ballerina and Phlox Franz Schubert.


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The Dell garden, which eventually contained more than 5,000 species and varieties of perennials from all over the world, was developed between 1953 and 1962.

From 1962 Mr Bloom's energies went into a different pastime - collecting old steam traction engines and locomotives.

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With a team of paid and volunteer helpers this was the beginning of what was to become The Bressingham Steam Museum, one of the largest attractions of its kind in Britain.

Opening in the early 1960s, the garden and steam museum have grown over the years and still run today.

Last night Adrian Bloom paid tribute to his father, saying: "He said before he died that he had been lucky. It's the gardening that I think he will be remembered for and his legacy is through his plants that he introduced, the Blooms of Bressingham name is known all over the world."

Mr Bloom went to school in Cambridge but began gardening from the age of 16, starting his own business in Oakington, Cambridgeshire, in 1926. Mr Bloom moved to Bressingham with his young family in 1946, relocating to Canada for a short time before returning.

His sons Adrian and Robert joined in the Blooms of Bressingham nursery and farm business in 1962 and from 1970 he took an ever-decreasing role, spending his time on his steam interest and propagating his beloved perennials.

Mr Bloom, who married twice and had six children, wrote around 30 books on plants and steam, as well as an autobiography, and often appeared with Percy Thrower, regarded as Britain's first television gardener.

A celebration of his life will be held on June 21 at Bressingham.

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