George Loddiges was a nurseryman and horticulturalist active in the early-19th century. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was born on 12 March 1786 in Hackney, Middlesex. Others place his birth in the year 1784.
He was the second son of Joachim Conrad Loddiges (born c.1738, died 1826), a native of Hanover and the founder of the Hackney firm of nurserymen, Conrad Loddiges & Son, and his wife, Sarah Aldous (born 1740, died 1815).
George Loddiges, along with his elder brother William (born 1776, died 1849), joined his father's nursery at a young age. At the time it had an international reputation and introduced a number of new plants to Britain. The 15 acre site included a 9 acre arboretum.
According to A. R. P. Hayden, in 1836 the nursery had "67 species and varieties of oak, 29 of birch, 91 of crataegus, 180 of willow, and 1549 roses" listed in its catalogue causing John Claudius Loudon reputedly to have remarked that, ‘in this department, Messrs. Loddiges have done more than all the royal and botanic gardens put together’. The nursery specialized in palms and orchids.
In the 1820s George Loddiges designed the steam heating and an overhead system of irrigation for a range of hothouses at the nursery which greatly impressed the visitors. By 1845 the nursery was growing 280 species and varieties of palms and 1916 of orchids.
In the years between 1817 and 1833 the plants grown in the nursery were illustrated in coloured plates, engraved by George Cooke and many were based on Loddiges drawings. These were published in the nursery's own monthly scientific periodical, the Botanical Cabinet. Loddiges laid out the arboretum at the Abney Park cemetery in 1839–40.
Interested in science, Loddiges was a member of the councils of the Linnean Society, the Horticultural Society and founder of the Microscopical Society. Nathaniel Ward acknowledged his help in developing the Wardian case. This greatly increased the survival rate of plants being transported around the globe.
In addition to his botanical collections, Loddiges also had an internationally recognized collection of some 200 species of hummingbirds. This, along with his notes, were later donated by a descendant to the British Museum (Natural History) in 1933.
George Loddiges died in Hackney, Middlesex, on 5 June 1846. He was buried at St John-at-Hackney and was survived by his wife, Jane (born 1787, died 1859) daughter of the Revd James Creighton, whom he had married in 1811 and with whom he had had three children.
Hackney Borough Council, 'A Developing Reputation' <http://www.hackney.gov.uk/ca-gardenhistory-loddigesrep> [accessed 18 December 2007]
Hayden, A.R.P., ‘Loddiges, George (1786–1846)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) <http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37683> [accessed 18 December 2007]
The National Archives, National Register of Archives <http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/SubjectView.asp?ID=P34125> [accessed 18 December 2007]
The Natural History Museum, Manuscript Collection of George Loddiges (1784-1846), A Collection Description <http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/collections-library/collections-management/collections-navigator/transform.jsp?rec=/ead-recs/nhm/uls-a351924.xml&srch_str=birds> [accessed 18 December 2007]
Solman, David, Loddiges of Hackney: the Largest Hothouse in the World (London: The Hackney Society, 1995)