Belfast Telegraph

Portadown-born rose grower Sam McGredy dies in New Zealand aged 87

Sam McGredy
Sam McGredy
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

One of the world's most famous rose growers, Portadown-born Sam McGredy, has died in his adopted country of New Zealand.

The larger than life businessman, who counted the Queen Mother and Ginger Rogers among his greatest fans, passed away at the weekend.

He was the fourth Sam McGredy to run an ultra-successful rose breeding business in Portadown.

A death notice in a New Zealand newspaper described Mr McGredy (87) as an "internationally renowned rose hybridiser" who had produced no fewer than 270 different varieties of flowers and had won a raft of major awards across the world.

Friends said that Mr McGredy, a recipient of a CBE, died peacefully surrounded by his family.

A celebration of his life will take place on Monday in a lounge at the home of the All Blacks, Eden Park in Auckland, reflecting Mr McGredy's lifelong passion for rugby.

Mr McGredy left Portadown for New Zealand in 1972.

As well as his horticultural interests he also owned the Craigavon Inn on the Garvaghy Road.

He once said that people who had commended him for his "wonderful work" in breeding roses had got it wrong.

"I bred roses to make money," he added.

He said that when he arrived in New Zealand he had 1,000 plants and some seeds with him.

Mr McGredy's great-great-grandfather started growing roses in the 19th century.

Sam McGredy the fourth was just two years old when his father died and an uncle took the reins of the firm until his nephew, who had been sent to boarding school, moved in to spearhead the company at the age of 20.

Six years later Mr McGredy introduced his first hybrid of his own and in 1960 he married fashion model Maureen McCall, with whom he had three daughters.

In 1978 the McGredys were divorced and he married his second wife Jillian, after whom he named a rose.

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