Sad loss of a horticultural hero

I’m a week late with this, but I’ve only just heard – Alan Bloom, possibly the greatest perennial plants advocate and enthusiast of the 20th century, has died aged 98.
Alan Bloom was a great influence on me as I came into the horticulture industry. I’ve read most of his books, including the excellent Plantsman’s Progress, which covers not only his background in horticulture, but also his relationships with parents and children, touching on Fenland life. His enthusiasm and passion for perennials, illustrated by the way he developed a large perennial-growing nursery at a time when shrubs and low-maintenance gardens were the fashion, as well as his co-founding of the Hardy Plant Society, were rewarded with an MBE as well as the two highest honours in horticulture – the Veitch Memorial Medal and the Victoria Medal of Honour.
He cut a slightly eccentric figure. His hooped earrings and long flowing hair marked him out as slightly different from most (rather staid) horticulturalists. He had a passion for plants matched only by his passion for steam power (he collected many engines for his museum at Bressingham, Norfolk). He was also a Quaker and, judging by his autobiography, something of a rebel who was not afraid to stand up against the "perceived wisdom". He did much to popularise perennials, both through his media appearances and also through his development of the "island bed" technique of displaying them, and it is probably fair to say that I might not be doing what I am doing today if it had not been for his efforts in this field.
There were to be special open days of his Dell Garden at Bressingham Hall this summer for the HPS. Knowing his great age, I had planned to attend in order to meet the great man before he died. Unfortunately, that opportunity is now lost. Instead, a tribute day will be held there on 21 June to celebrate his life in the garden he created, a garden which features some of the 200 or so plants that he bred and developed. Some of those plants are growing at my parents’ nursery, and I’ll be planting one or two in the garden here.