Botanist and plant hunter. Born in Edinburgh, Taylor was educated at Boroughmuir Secondary and George Heriot's Schools in the city and then studied botany at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the Botany Department of the British Museum in London in 1928 and took part in several important collecting expeditions to South and East Africa, Bhutan and Nepal. He became Deputy Keeper (1945) then Keeper (1950) of Botany at the British Museum before being appointed Director of Kew Gardens in 1956, where he was responsible for the their post-war reinvigoration. An expert on Meconopsis, the Himalayan blue poppy, he wrote the book An Account if the Genus Meconopsis (1934).
On his retirement in 1971, he returned to Scotland, living at Belhaven House. He continued to play an active role through the Caledonian Horticultural Society, the Scottish Rock Garden Club, the Chelsea Physic Garden and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
He was knighted in 1962 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968. He was awarded the Scottish Horticultural Medal by the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society in 1984 and an honorary degree from the University of Dundee.
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