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The History of Thompson & Morgan® Seedsmen

It Started Behind A Bakery

As one of the oldest seed firms in the business, Thompson & Morgan® started off in a rather unusual place - the back of a baker's shop. (photo left, Tavern Street- Where we were born)

William Thompson, who always fashioned himself as a 'Baker Botanist' grew up with a father who owned a small baked goods store in early 19th century Ipswich, Suffolk, England. William helped out in the shop, but dreamed one day of becoming a botanist. After he tended to the needs of the bakery, he would also tend to his garden in the back of the shop everyday. When his father became stricken with ill health, William began studying botany full-time.

How Charles Darwin Helped

William specialized in growing rare and unusual plants from seed that were sent to him from many overseas countries. It brought him a sense of adventure and earned him a reputation for introducing many rare and unusual plants, a practice that continues today. His friendships with such well-known scientists as Sir Joseph Hooker, Sir Michael Foster and Charles Darwin allowed William to grow his passion into a business, which he moved to a nursery at the edge of Ipswich. Eventually, there were three nurseries in town. His efforts were rewarded in 1896 when received the Victorian Medal of Honor from the Royal Horticultural Society.

When Mr.Thompson Met Mr.Morgan

Though he was already publishing a magazine called "The English Flower Garden", William felt he needed to share his fabulous breeds and wide selection with a bigger audience. In 1855, his first catalog was produced. By now the seed firm was expanding rapidly.

He turned to John Morgan for his strong business acumen that would help strengthen the T&M brand. John may have been a stranger to plants, but he was no stranger to business. His sharp mind ensured Thompson & Morgan® Seedsmen, Inc. would be soundly financed so William could continue his breeding program. William Thompson died in 1903 at the age of 80 but had 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 seed company - a tradition that continues to this day. Joseph Sangster, his replacement, only added to that reputation by adding 4,000 plant varieties to the 2,000 already established in the Thompson & Morgan® catalog.

Expanding Globally

Thompson & Morgan's® headquarters and trial gardens, still based in Ipswich allow our horticultural staff to continue breeding new and exclusive varieties for the public. The company's operations expanded with the opening of offices and warehouse space in Jackson, New Jersey in 1982.

Our various worldwide websites feature over 8,000 products showcasing the entire seed range. T&M catalogs are distributed in 163 countries.

Our vegetable, herb, annual, perennial, exotic seeds and sundries can be found in Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Korea, Canada, Japan and the United States.

With each annual catalog, we offer the public at least two dozen new varieties to grow from seed. Gardeners can find valuable growing and sowing information in our free catalog or on our website. Customers have said time and again they keep our catalog long after ordering as a reference guide. We are very flattered by that compliment. Thank you!

Serving Gardeners Needs Today

Along with outstanding customer service and a Horticulturist on staff to provide helpful advice, everything Thompson & Morgan® offers comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Our informal motto is "If we wouldn't want to grow it in our backyard, why should you?" In the spirit of William Thompson, we believe genetically modified seeds (GMOs) are bad and have proudly signed the Safe Seed Pledge. We are a proud member of the Direct Gardening Association as well as the Garden Writers Association of America.

Visit Us During Open Trials

Our biggest yearly event is when we open our Ipswich trial grounds in July to the public. Gardeners and horticultural societies from all over travel to preview next years seed range, receive technical advice from our staff and listen to guest lecturers who are renowned in the industry.

We are excited to demonstrate various ways to make your garden shine. If you are ever in England during Open Trials, you should visit us. We'd love to meet you!

Experts In The Garden Since 1855

After 154 years (and counting) in business, Thompson & Morgan® Seedsmen, Inc. strives to continue the principles that first blossomed in a bakery garden. We thank you for interest in us and hope you'll experience the romance of the seed that first enchanted William Thompson.

Have another question? Return to the Customer Service Help page or send an e-mail directly to Customer Service.