Popular Gardener Margaret Thomas Has Died

By Craig Melvin
|  Wednesday, May 25, 2011  |  Updated 9:07 PM EDT
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Friends and family members hold vigil for a Herndon gardener who's worked on her plants and flowers for the past 50 years.

Craig Melvin

Friends and family members hold vigil for a Herndon gardener who's worked on her plants and flowers for the past 50 years.

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A popular gardener in Fairfax County, Va., died Wednesday morning.

Margaret Thomas was 89 years old.

In 1963, she began gardening out of necessity. She sold her produce to provide for the son she was raising alone. Soon, her flowers – irises in particular – were stealing the show.

For almost 50 years, the garden was a sanctuary and a classroom. It sits on about five acres on Lawyers Road, a valuable piece of land that a developer offered Thomas $4.5 million a few years ago. She refused to sell.

"Just look at all the joy she's brought to people,” neighbor Karen Ulans said Tuesday. “You just drive around any of these neighborhoods and their yards are full of her irises and peonies."

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