|Name Henry Eckford|
|Died 1905, Wem, United Kingdom|
Henry Eckford (17 May 1823 – 5 December 1905) was a Scots horticulturist and reputedly the most famous breeder of sweet peas, transforming the plant from a minor horticultural subject into the queen of annuals. U.S. horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey called him "the prince of specialists". In 1888 he moved to the town of Wem in Shropshire, England. It was in Wem that he perfected the breeding of his Grandiflora sweet peas, which in size of bloom and general performance were a great improvement over previous varieties.
Henry Eckford was a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, and was awarded the Society's highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour. From horticultural shows he gained "upwards of 85 gold and silver medals" among his prizes.
Eckford was twice married. His first wife, who predeceased him, was Charlotte, daughter of Job Stainer of Queen Camel, Somerset, by whom he had two sons and a daughter who survived him. His second wife was Emily, daughter of Godfrey Gerring, of Coleshill, Berkshire.
In 1907 it was written that because of Eckford's work, sweet peas "are now of such world-wide importance that many hundreds of acres are annually cultivated, and through their general popularity Wem has become famous throughout the world, and is looked upon as the Mecca of sweet peas."
In honour of Henry Eckford the town of Wem (specifically the Eckford Sweet Pea Society of Wem) holds each year in July a sweet pea show. In this there is a section for old fashioned varieties, always including many bred by Henry Eckford.
His family name is perpetuated in the name of Eckford Park private housing estate.