William Saunders

1822 - 1900

Horticultural pioneer and garden designer. Born in St. Andrews, Saunders was educated at Madras College and the University of Edinburgh. He worked briefly in London before moving to the USA in 1848. There he laid out several estates and cemeteries, before he was appointed as Superintendent of the Propagating Gardens in the US Department of Agriculture in 1862. In this position, he was responsible for breeding vast numbers of plants sent around the USA and for introducing a number of economically-important non-native plants, including the eucalyptus tree, varieties of winter-hardy apples from Russia and navel oranges from Brazil which greatly improved the American citrus industry. He created a system which saw thousands of plants scientifically examined to identify their beneficial characteristics. He also designed a system of parks for Washington DC and oversaw the planting of around 80,000 trees in that city.

In 1863 Saunders was selected to design the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, at the opening of which President Lincoln delivered his now-famous address.

Saunders published numerous articles on horticulture and was a founding member of the National Grange, an organisation which championed the welfare of rural communities in America.

He died in Washington DC.

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