Ellen Willmott was a horticulturalist who was born in 1858 as the eldest of three girls, daughters of Frederick Willmott (1825-1892). In about 1876 Ellen and her family moved to Warley Place, near Brentwood, in Essex. It was here that she developed her gardening skills.
After her sister's marriage in 1891, Ellen lived in Warley on her own, having inherted large sums. She bought the château at Tresserve, near Aix-les-Bains, France, in 1890, and Boccanegra near Ventimiglia in 1905. In these gardens she indulged in acclimatising, propagating, and cultivating plants under different conditions.
She joined the Royal Horticultural Society in 1894, and was elected to the narcissus (later narcissus and tulip) committee (1897), the floral committee (group B) (1930), and the lily committee (1933). She was among the first sixty recipients (only two of them women) of the Victoria medal of honour (1897); one of the first three trustees of the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley (1903); and one of the first women to be elected a fellow of the Linnean Society (1905). The Société d'acclimatation de France awarded her the grande médaille Geoffroi St Hilaire in 1912, while in 1924 she received the Dean Hole medal from the National Rose Society.
Her published works include: The Genus Rosa (1910-1914).
She sometimes advised on garden design and planting, notably on Anne Hathaway's Cottage garden at Stratford upon Avon in the early-1920s.
To learn more about her, please click here to go to the Historical Profile article: https://www.parksandgardens.org/explore/topics/176-historical-profiles/493-ellen-ann-willmott-a-true-genius-of-the-place
Lièvre, Audrey le, ‘Willmott, Ellen Ann (1858–1934)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) < http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/48838 > [accessed 27 August 2007]