Grave of St Albans’ Orchid King restored by history group
PUBLISHED: 16:40 30 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:42 30 July 2019
The St Albans gravestone of a world-renowned plant biologist has been restored by a local history group.
Fleetville Diaries held an event to commemorate the life of Henry Frederick Conrad Sander, a famous 19th to 20th century German orchid breeder.
Nicknamed the Orchid King, he developed the difficult science of orchid hybridisation and wrote a four-volume series of books called Reichenbachia.
Detailing about 200 orchid varieties, the majority of Reichenbachia was intricately illustrated by Henry Moon.
Various breeds of orchid are named after the German-born gardener, such as Anthurium laucheanum Sander and Maranta sanderiana Sander.
According to Hertfordshire Genealogy, Sander settled in England 1867 and took over Messrs S Josling's seed business on George Street in the mid-1870s.
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Over time, Sander created an orchid empire in The Camp and employed about 23 collectors to search Asia and South America for new species.
He went on to supply orchids to royal families and stately homes in purpose built 'orchid wagons'.
The Sander family grave, which is in Hatfield Road Cemetery, had fallen into disrepair before the Fleetville Diaries restored it.
Committee member David Gaylard said: "The grave was in a very poor condition, it had a huge buddleja growing out of it, it was very overgrown and full of brambles and the memorials had been knocked over, so we thought we should restore it as it is a remarkable part of history.
"It is not surprising [that many people may not know about Sander] but it is important to remember him because he is a part of St Albans."
About 90 people attended the commemorative event on July 23 at St Paul's Church on Hatfield Road, including Matt Biggs, who is on BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time: "It was a unique opportunity to celebrate the life, legacy and extraordinary achievements of Fredrick Sander, who, for many decades, turned St Albans into the centre of the orchid world."
Members of Sander's family, including Reichenbachia illustrator Henry Moon and Sander's two daughters, also attended the event.