Everyone researching the history of nursery gardening owes a debt to John Hooper Harvey (1911-1997).  A significant historian of British mediaeval architecture, he turned his attention to the history of gardens in the 1970s.  He was anxious to establish conservation principles for historic gardens and to encourage the use of authentic plants.

He conducted detailed correspondence with a large number of local studies librarians and archivists – the wise ones have added the letters to their collections! – and published widely.

His thoroughness and dedication were remarkable, given the limitations of the finding aids at his disposal. Today we have the advantage of richer collections, vastly improved lists and catalogues, and infinitely searchable information on the internet. The result is that it has been possible to identify more nursery gardeners and discover more about them in a fraction of the time he took. But his research provides us with a superb resources from which to start.