About the author:

Dr. Graf was born in Nuernberg, Germany, the son of a nurseryman. He attended junior college in liberal arts; graduate training at the botanic gardens in Schoenbrunn and Belvedere in Vienna, followed by college study courses in horticulture, botany, languages and photography at Vienna, Austria; Hannover, Germany; Los Angeles, California; and Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey.

After his studies he worked with many horticultural establishments in Europe and the United States.

In 1931 he became associated with the Julius Roehrs Company and managed and developed through the years one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of tropical and subtropical ornamental plants grown under glass. For more then fifty years, he traveled to all the tropical and subtropical regions of the world to study the local flora and collections; and research at Botanical Institution and Herbaria; to explore for new plants and record their floristic backgrounds with his camera and notebook.

In 1951 the Julius Roehrs Company found that a key tool in promoting sales was a pictorial catalogue of the many exotic plants sold by the nursery. The decision was made to publish a three to four page loose leaf brochure showing photographs of plants one could purchase from the greenhouse. As time passed and the nursery prospered, customers would indicate how valuable they found those advertising pages which they carefully filed for future reference. Taking the cue, Dr. Graf published the first bound version of the exotic house plants in 1953. It was 60 pages long. In time the original 60 pages grew so that in 1958 the first edition of Exotica, a pictorial cyclopedia of tropical plants were published. This work included 642 pages with 4000 black and white photos. The book received instant acclaim and garnered numerous awards from the horticultural establishment.

In 1960 he spent eight months in out-of-the-way, extremely difficult and primitive areas of the South Pacific, Australia, New Guinea, Southeast Asia, Especially Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, India and the Sikkimese Himalayas; also three months in Africa. The result of these travels allowed him to compile a 2nd edition of Exotica with 12,000 illustrated photographs. In 1982 it was expanded to a 2 volume set of books with 6,300 photos. This set of books went out of print in 1992.

For Dr. Graf, the searching, photographing and identification of plants to present to horticulturists became a career. It was a labor of love, he recalls. He continued to work on the volume Tropica, exploring and documenting the tropical and subtropical plants of the world. Now in his nineties, he has completed the final book in this life-long series, Hortica. Hortica begins where Tropica left off, and it provides pictorial documentation of the plants of temperate climates. Hortica is the most ambitious work of his career. With 8,1000 color photos in 1218 pages it represents about ten years of research and production.

Dr. Graf now lives with his wife in Dusseldforf Germany in her parential home. He is still president of the Roehrs Company and chairman of the board of the Julius Roehrs Nursery in Farmingdale, New Jersey.

Amongst the honors received by the author are the award of the large gold medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, the certificate of merit of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the distinguished service award of the Horticultural Society of New York, a citation award of the american horticultural society, and the tercentary medallion of the state of New Jersey, presented 1964 at the New York Coliseum.

In 1967 he was invested with the Sarah Chapman Francis Medal of the Garden Club of America for outstanding literary achievement during the national convention in Pittsburgh 1972, Alfred Graf was elected to Horticulture’s Hall of Fame, the highest distinction of the Society of American Floriste, for his contributions to the advancement of floriculture in America. He is also a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica.

In cognizance of his research and published reference works on exotic plants, Fairleigh Dickinson University of New Jersey conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. In Portland, Oregon, 1979, he was awarded the treasured medal of his mentor, Dr. Libery Hyde Bailey of Cornell University, New York, the highest honor of the American Horticultural Society.